Back from a big business trip to Emeryville, California. Northeast of Oakland, it is home to our new client. We flew down Monday for a meet and greet/project launch. Stayed at the Four Points Sheraton; huge room spacious enough to fit two tables, a couch, and a coffee table, and a ridiculously small bathroom. When I mean small, I mean 1/4-inch clearance between arc of the bathroom door and the toilet seat. I was told the room I had was scheduled for renovation.
The concierge recommended the Townhouse for dinner. It was before 5:00 and beautiful, so we chose to walk the five or so blocks. There is a pedestrian walkway to cross the train tracks at Powell and Hollis. Then things got a little less sunny.
As we started climbing the steps, a trio of teens a half block behind us started calling out. It was enough racket for me to turn and see that we were the focus of their attention.
There are four of us: two of our tech/programming experts, my boss (principal of the agency), and me. The two tech gurus are in front, my boss and I are in back as we start climbing the stairs to the walkway. Median age of our group: 36. Median age of the three kids running to catch up with us: 14.
We get to the top and start across the walkway. The kids have sprinted up the stairs and caught up with us. They’re shouting, “Give us your wallets.” Yeah, whatever. Easy enough to ignore.
“I’ve got a gun.” Not so easy to ignore.
Still none of our group turns, stops, or gives any outward indication we’re being assaulted. Yup, we’re just walking down the stairs. We don’t change our pace. The two tech gurus in front don’t appear to hear or comprehend what the mealymouthed hooligans are getting at.
My mind is racing. I carry plastic, not cash. I don’t have a dollar on me. I know I’m not about to hand over my wallet, because…actually I have no idea why not, I just knew I wasn’t going to hand over my wallet unless someone got shot.
I glanced back to see the tallest of the kids with his hand at his waistband. They’re shouting about “having a banger. I’ve got the banger in front.” I’m not sure if a banger is a gun or a reference to our short haired tech guru. We’ve reached the first landing. Now they’re shouting threats about how soon they’ll shoot/kill us for our wallets.
I distinctly remember thinking “I wonder how much it’ll hurt? Is it a piercing pain, or a shooting pain.” The pun nearly made me gag. We get to the bottom of the steps and all I want to do is teleport home to hug my children.
Turning out from the pedestrian walkway, the boys are still on the steps, but the turn takes us directly past them. The three little punks are leaning over the side to give us–high-fives. No joke. They’re giving us accolades “for not never turning around.” And “you m——s f—–s are hard. I respect that.”
We walked one way, they walked another. My boss and my two co-workers were all giddy with bravado; “four-on-three,” “they’re boys, we’re men,” “I was trying not to laugh…”
Bullshit. It phucking sucked. We had no idea if they had guns, were serious, or were willing to take us down in broad daylight. “Pretend mugging” is a really messed up form of afternoon/after school entertainment. I cannot believe how lucky we were.
So, if you go to Emeryville, take my advice: don’t walk to dinner at Townhouse. But definitely go to Townhouse. Order the calamari and the prawns for appetizers and the flat iron steak, medium-rare, for your entree.
Fell behind on my word quota. So, I’m giving my ego and conscience a break. Call it a post attempted assault vacation and recovery. Tonight I add a 7-day deadline bump.
44 days remaining (10:32:32:40)