Only as an urban resident – Ep. 5

On Monday, my coworkers advise me to keep calling the cops. And perhaps I could file a restraining order against Shihiem (PFA = protection from abuse, or “stay away” order), because I felt threatened by him, even if just for an instant. I’m like, meh.

After dinner downtown, I walk home from the train stop. I see Shihiem sitting on my porch with his socks and shoes all over the place. “Shihiem, I’m sorry, you can’t stay here.”


He puts on his pouty face. I try to gently and rationally explain the situation again. I take out my mace for the illusion of self defense. Nonchalantly he tells me, “Go ahead and mace me. If you do, I’ll get someone to come after you.” Rationally, I know that he doesn’t have anyone on his side right now, so that threat is likely void. But emotionally, I am nervous as to how this interaction could end, and I am thankful I have health and disability insurance. I raise my voice:

“GET OFF MY F!@#$%& PORCH!!!”

About 10 of my neighbours turn their heads. My angry outside voice is not even as loud or dramatic as most of their normal inside voices. But they heard me, partly because they had never heard me use the F-word. “We been known there be somethin’ wrong, coz we ain’t never heard Amy talk like THAT.” I sin and fall short of the glory of God. Yassir walks down from three houses over to investigate my problem.

Yassir: Yo, you gotta leave, man. You don’t want to go to jail.

Shihiem: (with attitude) I don’t care. I’ve been to jail.

Yassir: (scoffingly) Pssh! Yeah, you’ve been to juvie.

Shihiem: (with more attitude) No. I’m 19. I’ve been to real jail.

Yassir: (even more scoffingly) Heh. Yeah right, like municipal jail. I’ve been to REAL jail, and you DON’T wanna go there, n***A!

Shihiem stays planted on my steps. My neighbours tell me to call the cops. I say, “Excuse me,” walk past Shihiem, enter my house, and then think about calling the cops again. But first, I cry. I rarely cry.

I cried because I was sleep deprived. I cried in fear about how my goofy and loving, but well-educated and financially stable Taiwanese family would potentially react to this story. I cried for everyone in my community who tried so hard to help Shihiem, and everyone else who thought they were foolish for helping a “lost cause”. I cried for all the marginalized people that Shihiem represents for whom Jesus cares: young men of colour, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the ex-cons, the abused foster child. I cried because I knew I wasn’t the One responsible to truly change others in need and to make things grow, but the fact that this friendship turned awry made it difficult for me to desire helping others in the future. I also cried because I was thankful for my neighbours who had my back, even when the cops didn’t come.


One response to “Only as an urban resident – Ep. 5”

  1. searchingforsubstance Avatar

    hm. that’s a powerful story about the brokenness of man – not only in how society has failed that young man to help him stay out of trouble and out of jail (there is definitely a lack of support systems to help assimilate former inmates back into society), but also, your own brokenness and sin that erupted in such a fragile moment.

    i don’t know where along the road things got tougher and where the friendship turned awry, but my prayer is that God will sustain You and compel you to keep looking to Him and continue to be a salt and a light in a community that so desperately needs Christ.

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