25 February 2008

These Too Are Human

Three middle-aged men share the apartment upstairs from mine. One of them has been living there for over thirty years. He takes in extra people to make ends meet, but he's a poor judge of character. His roomates tend to be drunks who have a hard time holding down jobs. He spends a lot of time shrieking at them to pull their own weight and leave his stuff alone. Worse, his roommates feel entitled to invite their own friends over. Sometimes these are literally people off the street.

One of the roomates had a woman over last night. She's well known to everyone who lives in the building. She's a crazy drunk who gets paranoid and violent. Last night she got started accusing her boyfriend of stealing her wallet. It got so bad that he called the cops, and I had to let them in. They calmed things down but didn't get rid of the woman.

Later she started up again and the boyfriend, if I dare call him that, threw her out. He didn't throw her out of the building, but left her in the hallway at the top of the stairs, outside his door. She started pounding away, shrieking louder than the regulars do: "Don't do this to me, you son of a bitch! Let me in! LET ME IN! GIVE ME BACK MY CIGARETTES! GIVE ME BACK MY GODDAMN CIGARETTES! LET ME IN!!! You dirty skeletor! You skinny son of a bitch! Give me back my cigarettes! GIVE ME BACK MY SHOES! DON'T LEAVE ME OUT HERE! GIVE ME BACK MY GODDAMN SHOES!"

"I put them in the hallway!" the roomate mutters from behind the door.

"There's only one! Where's my other shoe? Give me back my other shoe! GIVE ME BACK MY OTHER SHOE!! You son of a bitch, you're going down! You hit me, you skeletor son of a bitch! I'll call a cop! YOU'RE! GOING! DOWN! GIVE ME BACK MY SHOE!!!"

Now, no response.

"Can I talk to you for two minutes? Will you open the door and let me talk to you for two minutes? . . . Open this door! Open the goddamn door and give me back my shoe! YOU SON OF A BITCH! OPEN THIS GODDAMN DOOR, NOW!!! Please! Please let me talk to you for two minutes! YOU GODDAMN SON OF A BITCH! AAAAAA!!!!..."

Eventually the hall grew quiet. As I learned in the morning, he had let her back in. I found that out because, while I was getting ready to go to work, they were fighting again. Later on, someone else in the building called the cops, and apparently they finally got rid of her for a while. Then the older roomate came home and started shrieking at the other fellow for the mess the woman made.

* * *

I offer this as a cautionary tale for the hopeful, the visionaries, the utopians and revolutionaries. When you try to change the world, people like these come with the package.

1 comment:

crhymethinc said...

Are you really sure that they're human beings and not semi-domesticated primates? Or, if you prefer, "animated dirt clods" to paraphrase the ancient Sumerians.