Like most of the bad decisions I made in my life this one started when I was really hungry. It was 10:30 pm and I really wanted to make a ‘Nuttin Butter’ Almond Butter Cinnamon Vanilla, pictured above, and Country Fresh Blueberry Jam sandwich. There was one critical problem standing between me and almond butter goodness and that was ‘bread’. I had no bread. Or as we efficiently call it in Kuwait ‘toast’.
I wont go into the details, but almond butter and jam sandwiches don’t taste so good without white bread. Nope.
So I decided to go to the nearby 7-Eleven. A 5 minute walk; no biggie. My knack for making bad decisions at 10:30 pm continues when I choose to take a “shortcut” to get there.
Some background. I live in the worst part of Hollywood. Literally, one of the most dangerous areas in LA. I am 3 minutes away from a Goodwill, a welfare office, a mental hospital, an abandoned park and at least 2-3 miles away from the closest police station. Suffice to say, I had no reason to leave the house after 9, up until now.
I leave the house, and I, of course, immediately alarm all the dogs in the neighborhood. There are two ways to reach the nearest 7-eleven, one way would be to use the main road and one way is to use a back ally, a way which I’ve never taken, not even in broad daylight. The wise portion of my brain demanded “we need almond butter sandwiches ASAP, take the shortcut”. Mind you, I had no idea if this way was indeed a shortcut, or that if I could even reach 7-eleven from this ally. The hungry part of my mind continued to say “get going, NOW” and so I did.
I make it to the end of the road and I realize that the road is blocked at the end. I’ve now been walking for 6-7 minutes. So, I turn around and go back. That’s when I decide that turning left will lead to another shortcut! and it was a shortcut, and there I was at my destination.
Right before the green and orange sign there was a gang of Latino stereotypes; dressed in standard gang member attire and listening to loud, obnoxious pitbull-like music on an iPhone 3GS left on the pavement.
I pass them by without a care, I was almost strutting thinking to myself “I am here for bread, bitches”.
I keep forgetting that I am a spoiled suburban 28 year old male from Bayan and not Biggie Smalls. The only boy in the family, ba3ad.
I was stopped by the smallest of the gang members, there were 4, maybe 5 of them. The shortest guy comes up to me and says “you wanna make a donation, hommes’?”. I was taken back by his statement and was immediately startled but kept my cool.
If you’ve met me before then you’ll understand that I have a very nonchalant poker face most of the time and unless I am smiling, I usually look quite aggressive. This was my face at the time.
But at that moment, lets just say “shit got real”. This is what I’ve been told about! this is the bad part of the evil western world. This is how Law & Order continues to make new episodes, decades later. I kept imagining headlines in the local newspapers “Kuwaiti Stabbed to Death by Mexican Gang” the article would later say “…sources say young man was on his way to buy bread…”.
I say “no.” and continue walking. He steps in front of me again and says “I am going to have to ask you to make a deposit into my wallet” the other guys in the background start to laugh/smirk at this point. I look at the short guy and say “if I had anything worth donating, you think I’d be going to buy bread from 7-eleven at 11pm?”. He is not amused by my clever remarks and takes out his knife and says the standard robber line “give me your money and your phone” I take out my wallet and show him that I only have 7 dollars in my pocket, he glimpses my phone and snatches it out of my hands and says “shit, ese you really are broke, you got an android” he gives me back my phone. Takes one dollar from the stack of 7 I had.
At this point I realize that all of the guys are actually on some sort of drug. Crack, perhaps. And they are all so high that I am more likely to rob them before they could rob me.
I push the little guy into the dumpster and the other guys start to laugh. I walk past them and finally get to 7-eleven.
I don’t know what kind of cosmic joke or important lesson life was trying to teach me tonight, but when I went inside the 7-eleven I found out they only have whole wheat bread. Naturally, I left home empty handed and later made myself a nice noodle cup soup.