Readings — From the January 2016 issue

If Looks Could Kill

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From posts by residents of Oakland, California, to NextDoor and Glenfriends, two online social networks for neighbors.

Silver Dodge Caravan, two Latino male occupants, not particularly young. When I took a long look at them, they consulted with one another and headed off. This is historically the week people come to take your Christmas presents.

One African-American man claiming to be my neighbor just rang my doorbell. He wanted to know if I had a chain to move a car. He did NOT look nor sound like any neighbor I know.

My houseguest saw a strange person early Friday morning. Slight, dark-skinned, with an Afro/curly hair and weird lipstick. Couldn’t tell if person was a man or woman. Was checking out our cars and staring at our house/windows from the sidewalk, and then came down our front steps. Nothing else happened.

While running this morning around the lake I passed a middle-aged AA male walking a mountain bike with one hand and pulling a yellow child carrier with the other. There was no way the carrier had a child in it. I stopped and asked him if he needed any help and he didn’t seem to panic, so I continued on my way. I looked for a police car as I continued my run but didn’t see any and didn’t have my cell phone. Anyone have their bike and child carrier stolen?

I saw three guys on Glenfield this afternoon that did not seem to fit the neighborhood. They gave me a major case of the creeps. African-American males, aged 25–35. One shaved-headed, wearing a sleeveless black T-shirt, lots of jewelry, and pants with studs. They were hanging around a house for sale and pointing around the property and talking. They sure did not look like buyers.

This morning I drove to Peet’s and parked on the street. I had all my items in the trunk. I got into the trunk as a silver car with two black males made a U-turn. I took my computers and bag into Peet’s and placed my order. While the coffee was being made I walked back out. One black male, wearing low-slung jeans and a hoodie covering his face, was outside his vehicle with the door propped open. I walked within a car-distance of him with a whistle around my neck. The man in the hoodie began “stretching.” He looked at me when he got back in his car and said, “What?” Please keep a lookout.

As I was walking home for lunch I noticed a large maroon car. There were six African-American males in and around the car dressed in black clothing. They were a little intimidating and were watching me! I braved to stop a moment and didn’t cross the street as I usually do. I called the nonemergency number as soon as I got home. The dispatcher asked what else besides their clothing and their car made them suspicious: “We can’t send cars out whenever.” I told her they don’t live here, since I walk home every day at this time and know who belongs.

As I came home with groceries tonight, there was a red-orange Ford parked in front of my house. There was a large black man in the driver’s seat with a very insolent expression, and a smaller, lighter man with a thin beard down the front of his chin. As I drove past him, I got a good look at his face. I do not want to have anything to do with anybody who looks at me with that expression! If I saw a dog that had its teeth bared, I wouldn’t go near it. If he were a dog, he would have bared his teeth. He wasn’t a dog, but he was scary.

Just now, coming back from Safeway, I spotted a graffiti “artist” in my rearview mirror climbing a parking meter to reach a sign. Did a U-turn, flashed him with my high beams to get his attention, and yelled at him. Appeared to be a thin white guy in his early twenties, wearing a hoodie. Did not appear to be a gang member — at least not in the traditional sense.

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