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‘The Crappiest Bouncer in Baltimore’
The Hell of Being Straight in Harm City
One hot June night as I waited for the #19 bus on Harford road I was approached by a young man, who shouted, “Yo, yo got monay!”
I snarled, shifted my weight, and looked side-to-side, keeping him in my field of vision. He backed off and I boarded.
After I got off the bus at the Inner Harbor I walked through Federal Hill and South Baltimore, infested with crack-heads, meth-heads, coke-heads, and heroin addicts. Panhandling was often used as a cover for attacks in this area. While crossing Fort Avenue two construction workers in a blue pickup truck screamed, “Queer!” and swerved toward me as they drank from bottles of beer.
After my shift the next morning, as I stepped off the bus on Harford and Southern across the street from a rehab clinic, I passed a young man who made hard eye contact with me. He scanned my hands and belt line. I was getting off an out of town bus with work gear on a Saturday morning. I would be carrying cash.
He tried to make eye-contact with me again. I read this as an attempt to initiate a confrontation. I declined, looked around for possible accomplices, and walked past him.
As I passed he rose and turned to follow me up Southern Avenue. That’s when I decided to stab him. I shifted my gear into my left hand so that I could draw the screwdriver from the sleeve of the leather knee-pads I carried. I stopped and stared at him. He then stopped advancing and stepped back against the light pole and slumped back down to the ground.
These passing encounters marked a rather typical weekend for me at that time, living in that neighborhood, working that job, around 2000. From 2006 thru 2010, as General Manager of a supermarket in a drug infested area of Northeast Baltimore, I would log up to 20 confrontations per week with panhandling dope fiends on the front sidewalk and parking lot, while my 260 pound security man sat in the office watching live videos of some cashier’s big butt. After years of avoiding confrontations I had to initiate them. Then, after 8 hours of aggressive policing in a tie, I’d throw the choker in a locker, slap on a rag and jacket, and become a defender again back out on a bus stop.
My two favorite freaks were Blonde Boy, a sore-covered heroin addict who was built like MMA fighter Tyson Griffin, and Keith of the much-pierced face, who was also blonde, but taller. One evening I was called to the front by an irate woman who claimed she had been panhandled by Blonde Boy. I ran outside, knowing he would still be scavenging for good will. He had an older lady pinned in her car, and was screaming that he needed money. (I think, at this time, my security man was zooming in on Tannika’s ample cleavage.) Retail food geek in a tie to the rescue!
I ran up to within five paces of Blonde Boy and stopped. He then turned dramatically, with his hands on the side of his head, his face turning purple, and said, “You, you! You are such an ASSHOLE!!!”
I said, “Yes, that’s my job. You have to leave.”
He responded, “Why do you have to be such an ASSHOLE!!! I’m sick of you bothering me! Stay away! I’m known for knocking people out!”
I said, “Good, we ought to get along just fine, because I’m known for taking beatings. Come on back to the bus stop and knock me out tonight. But right now, you need to leave.”
At this point his mind began processing some violent threat or action, but was short-circuited by the female customer who had complained about him. She had her right arm around my waist and was screaming over my right shoulder while she aimed a container of mace over my left shoulder, all the while pressing her hard nipples into my back. She was screaming, “Die mutherfucker. Starve in a gutter! I’ll fuckin’ mace your ass.”
Thankfully for me she did not spray the mace and blonde boy fled in fear of this little blonde chick who got her rocks off threatening dope-fiends with mace. I then assisted the elderly woman from her car while the psychotic, but actually hot, blonde white-trash chic waited. She told me she liked Italian food, was a single mother, wanted me to beat up her brother, and…somehow I lost interest.
The really great part about this incident, was, when I informed the police that I was becoming tired of Blonde Boy, they went after him—and got Keith instead. Now Keith and Blonde Boy are two of only three blonde men in Baltimore City, so we can forgive the cops. Keith resisted arrest and the cops stomped him out in front of the gay bar down the street.
About 3 months later Keith came to the store front and paced back and forth on the side walk. Apparently my security man had grown bored waiting for the last button on Ashantai’s long-suffering undersized blouse to pop, and had done a perimeter walk. He came to me, about ready to have an asthma attack, and said, “Boss, this bad white boy outside. Could you please ask him to go?”
I went outside and dazzled Keith with my eloquence and diction. I think I even called him ‘sir.’ Keith had been looking to throw down with me. But, upon looking over my shoulder at my sweating and heavily breathing security man, he apparently mistook this adrenaline dump gone bad as the eagerness of a predatory homosexual, and decided to leave.
I could go on for 200 pages about imposing my will on dope-fiends without actually having to touch them. It really is a non-physical art. Out of a probable 1200 panhandler ejections over a 4 year period, I only had to fight with one, and that was over with a single head butt between his eyes.
But still, even after my stint at the Ghetto Grocery Store as the crappiest bouncer in Baltimore, every time I am approached by some parasite that wants me to finance his peculiar form of suicide, a debate rages within me, between my brain and my guts. Should I walk around or stand my ground?
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