THORN IN THE BACKSIDE
If I hadn’t mentioned it, I’m African. Kenyan to be exact. By some strange twist of fate I found myself in this.... this melting pot. That’s all well and good and everything but there are some things we as foreigners should know from the get-go that no one tells us about. They just tell you about the really important things and leave you ass-out to find out for yourself the other things.
For instance, a couple of weeks after touching down in Philly when I first got here, I went to this public park. It was on a Saturday evening in the summer and the weather was great, so I decided to take a leisurely stroll around the park. My leisurely stroll turned out to be longer than I’d originally intended – or is it that the park turned out to be larger than I’d expected? Either way by the time I was getting back to the car it was pitch dark. I really didn’t have much to do so I rolled down the car’s windows, turned the radio on and sat on a nearby bench just chilling. Next thing I know these 2 cars drive slowly towards me and all of a sudden there is this mega-watt light that seems to illuminate my very soul – it was that bright. I surely thought I was going through a surreal experience – kinda like Paul when he was struck blind on the way to Damascus [Yes, I do know a little about the Good Book, O thee skeptics!] – if the white light hadn’t been accompanied by red and blue lights of lesser intensity. You guessed it – it was the boys in blue. I stood up resignedly squinting against the glare trying to see something – anything - when through some megaphone-like contraption I heard:
“Sir, let me see your hands!” I stretched them out towards the light. [I can be such a dumdum sometimes] “Put your hands above your head where I can see ‘em!” the Voice reprimanded. “Are you aware that no one should be at the park after dark?”
“No sir,” I responded.
“No sir,” I said, louder.
“Well, now you know. Get your ass out of here. Now.”
I didn’t need further encouragement and I spat gravel at him trying to get out of there.
But that’s what I’m saying, there’s lots of things we don’t know when we first get here. How was I to know about the park? And, who reads any of those signs all over the park that say things like ‘no alcohol and drugs’ or ‘pick your dog’s poop after he does his thing’ or ‘no hanging upside down on the basketball hoop?’ Some of these things are common sense but that being-in-the-park-at-night thing wasn’t. I mean, I wouldn’t very well go to the D.C. public park at night unless I had a death wish but this park was in the middle of Suburban Utopia.