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Friday, February 12, 2010

The artist gets jumped by predatory goons in the ghetto when he gets off the wrong bus

Well, this week was a doozy. It started out with me leaning over just after seeing my girlfriend off, and pulling/re-damaging my sciatic nerve. For any with back pain, you know the drill. Extreme pain, hard to get up and down. First I went to the Berkeley Suitcase clinic to see if I could get them to help me refill an old muscle relaxant I used before to kill the pain. The doctor, however, was not there. I went over to the Berkeley Free clinic, but they only dealt with STDs. I also found myself running low on asthma medicine, and decided it was time to drop into the Highland Hospital emergency room and figure things out.
When I got there, I was surrounded by insane amounts of senseless harm: boys with bullets in their legs, boys coughing up blood, literally, in the waiting room. Apparently it was a long night for cardiac arrests, so, I was relegated through triage to the last position, which I unhappily, but resignedly accepted from the ordeal of having to ask for help from the state to stay alive.
One woman, who's actual job was to sell hotdogs, told me about how a pimp had rushed her, head-butted her eye, and then ran off, for no reason really, other then that whores of his worked the street that she had had a home on for 30 years. When someone called an ambulance, an officer tried to stop it from helping her, and another blew her off, telling her with unruly words that she "wasn't in trouble." Well, she was very much in trouble. When I saw her eye was puffed to the size of a potato.
I was finally able to get out of Highland, which I had entered at 8PM, at 11:30 AM the next morning with some relieving drugs. Thank you Highland hospital and the city of Oakland for not letting me die!
Anyway, I'm a little tired, so, I'm not thinking too clearly. I'm on a lot of Ibuprofen, and hydrocortisone to deal with a dang rash i've been suffering. I decide that i will work, however, and I further decide, somewhat adventurously, that I will go to Emeryville, which I have heard is a bit like Alameda.
Well, I get on the bus, and go down what I thought, looking at a map, was Emeryville, but actually is West Oakland. It's still daylight out, and I tell the bus driver, "hey, I'm looking for more upscale housing, more mixed with whites, blacks, asians and latins all combined." She says I should go back to 40th, and that I should catch the bus back. She's about to tear off a transfer when I show her a pass.
I get off, and realize that the bus isn't coming, it's about 8 blocks to 40th, and i might as well just walk: maybe it will help my back. But, as I'm walking, I see a bus stop, down a side street and think, "well, why not wait." Clearly, anyone from Oakland knows where this is going.
Three kids walk up to me, down this side street, in the middle of nowhere, and the youngest, about 13, says, "you got a dollar?" Me, being ignorant of the ways of this part of the city, but realizing suddenly that I'm sort of in a bad situation, generously give him a dollar, with a few cents left in my hand. "Gimme the rest of it." I'm sort of grieved here, trying not to make a scene, so I comply, after all, it's just a few more cents.
The kid says, "I bet you have more money. You got more ones, or else, how you getting on the bus?"
I show him my bus pass. Probably not the smartest move, but I'm not a genius at being always on the ball, especially when I'm in pain, tired, and just spent the last day awake in a hospital all night. "I don't have any more money," (I did, had a five), "but I have a cartoon book." At this point I saw someone sweeping above me and got that Clint Eastwood feeling of impending doom.
They took and started laughing. "I bet you got more money." I said, "no, just that book, it's real funny," and I started walking away. I came back up to the more travelled road, but they followed me anyway, and surrounded me, trying to corral me to a wall, I ran out into the street and they jumped on me, but suddenly a woman stopped and spirited me away.
I was full of adrenaline, and thanked the woman profusely. The moral?
Don't get off in West Oakland if you are a stranger and wish to live. Sort of sad, but kind of important to be aware of.
I lost my glasses in the fracas, but i think my girlfriend doesn't like them anyway. :-)

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