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This just happened:

I’m walking down the sidewalk. It’s hella hot out. I hear shouting. An older woman and a teenaged girl are sitting on a planter, smoking. A teenaged boy is standing with them, yelling. As I pass by, their drama splashes onto me.

Boy: Were you paying my rent when I was here? Were you??
Woman: Shut up.
Boy: No!
Woman: SHUT UP! I’m going to call the cops.
Boy: Fine! Do it!

Having walked past them by now, I stopped, recalling a conversation I’d had with a police detective recently, about interrupting altercations. I remembered how he’d said to approach with hands held open in front of you to show that you wanted to help. I decided to go back; inject a little interest in my day.

Me: Do you guys need some help?
Boy: Yeah, I need you to mind your own business.
Me: Well, you’re making it my business by yelling in the street.
Woman: Leave us alone!
Me: Maybe you should get some help.
Boy: I do need help. I have psychological problems.
Me: Well, maybe you should address that.

I walk away, realizing I’m not going to get anywhere. Plus, the adrenaline is mixing up my words, bringing me down to their level of confrontational incoherence.

A homeless guy tells me that he’ll help, that he’s not afraid of anyone. “Be my guest,” I tell him, wanting to tell him I’m not afraid either.

“Valiant effort,” says a man opening up his restaurant. Meh, I think. Hopefully I was able to distract them anyway. Everyday milquetoast superhero, that’s me. They call me Meek Girl.

Originally posted June 19, 2012

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