Only as an urban resident
Last month there was a homeless teenager sleeping on my porch.
There is a lot of background to this story, which maybe I will explain in future posts, like episodes 1, 2, 3 of Star Wars or something.
For now, the dénouement to this saga (Episode 4):
On Friday morning I find a dirty sheet, some food trash, and a polo shirt on my porch. I put everything in a trash bag and leave it on the porch before going to work. When I come home in the evening, I notice the shirt is gone.
On Saturday morning, I find Shihiem sleeping on my porch, wearing the aforementioned polo shirt, wrapped in the aforementioned non-laundered sheet. I say, “Good morning, Shihiem”, then poke him on the shoulder with my index finger. “Hey! You’re not allowed to sleep on my porch! Please pick up your trash. I’m going to work now. See ya.” He hears me, but pretends to sleep.
On Saturday afternoon, my porch is even messier. The weekly circular was opened from the bag. There are grocery store ads and coupons everywhere. A pair of disheveled socks rests on the steps. No Shihiem in sight. I put everything in the trash bag and enter the house. On my way out to dinner, Shihiem is on the porch again. “Hey, Shihiem, you can’t stay on my porch. And you can’t leave all your stuff all over the place. Please clean up before you leave.” He rolls his eyes.
After dinner, I come back home and find Shihiem standing on the porch, leaning on the railing, which he damaged that week while doing cartwheels off of it. Parkour is really popular ’round here. “Shihiem, you gotta leave, please. It’s not best for you to stay here.” I am having flashbacks of Carl Winslow having a heart attack. I bring out my nunchucks for the illusion of self defense. My next door neighbours are having a party on their porch. Lots of interesting looks being exchanged. Eventually he leaves.
On Sunday evening, he returns. He knocks several times. Sometimes I answer. Sometimes I don’t. I try to have gentle, rational and edifying conversation with him. He doesn’t understand. He lies down on the porch, pulls his shirt over his face and pretends to sleep. I bring out my 9‑iron for the illusion of self defense. I lightly tap him on his polo shirt-covered head with my golf club handle. Shihiem mutters, “Don’t touch me,” then starts breathing heavily through his teeth. For a split second I feel threatened, but I am more worried I might morph into crazy saber-toothed tiger mom and channel my pre-anger management past.
“Shihiem, I’m going to call the cops.”
“Do what you gotta do.”
I call 911. They tell me they will send someone over to my address.
It shouldn’t take long because I see cops around here all the time. Right?
No one comes.