It’s nice to sit here this morning and listen to the bird’s singing out my window. It seems like Spring is upon us, but it’s still way cold and it snowed a bit yesterday morning. Wonder how Florida is today…
Yesterday I had a bit of a situation. First, I travelled to the local JobCentre to sign up a new claim. I’m sure I’m not eligible for compensation, but I wanted to see if there was anything they could do for me to try and find full time work somewhere. I was interested to see the types of people who were among the unemployed ranks: everyone. Seriously. All sorts of people where in there. People as young as 18, people much older, and people my age.
It’s not a pleasant place to be, obviously, but I honestly don’t know how any large amount of people can be living off of the system. You have to produce 10 job posts that you’ve applied for, and check in every two weeks. I’m suspecting that most of these people are like me; applying over and over and getting nothing back from the employers. (At least some of them interview me and/or send a nice note letting me know I wasn’t chosen for the role.)
After I went to the JobCentre, got my groceries, even allowed a lady and her granddaughter to use the pay-toilet after me so she didn’t have to shell out 20p, I had my encounter.
I was sitting on the bench in the bus station, waiting for Steve to call me. There was some big, loud, ginger dude talking to some lady and her kid about a phone to my left. I wasn’t paying much attention except I could hear the woman yelling, “Stop it"!” to the (presumably) the kid, as the guy continued loudly blahblahblahing. I’ve seen my share of loud, obnoxious people in town because, heck, they’re going to be everywhere you go. I didn’t think much else about it, until the lady and her kid walked off and the drunk dude came up to me, an inch from my face, blathering about something.
Now, since I live by the age-old practice of “Don’t acknowledge and don’t make eye contact,” so potential crazies will leave me alone, I did just that. But when he got closer to me, slurring about how he wanted to use my phone, and he’s give me a quid (no money visible, of course.) I was like, “What? No.” Seriously. Are you kidding me? Then he got pissed off. “But I need to call my effing neighbour!” I just kept telling him, “No. Absolutely not. No,” and putting my hand up for him to back off. He then proceeded to shout and call me all sorts of names (some of which I don’t know the meaning of) and he went on, ranging and raving through the bus station about what an effing blankety-blank I was.
I may be, dude. But I ain’t stupid.
That was enough to shake me up a bit, so I tried to find a security person of some description, but finally settled on going into the ticket agent’s and telling her about the incident so she could alert security. Steve called and I grabbed the next bus so I could get the heck out of Dodge.
Steve wanted to make sure that I reported the incident to the police, so I called the non-emergency number and let her know some crazed, drunken man was trying to get cell phones off of people. My concern was people with little kids or elderly people (though I’ve seen some of them in town who will push and shove to get on the bus or through a store, so I doubt they’d be very intimidated.) When I talked to the police, the dispatcher told me that I should have called 999 right then and there to let them know. I told them it wasn’t anything I needed to make a statement about, but the police still wanted to come over and talk to me.
About an hour later I had a nice policewoman in my kitchen discussing the woes of people with drug and alcohol problems in public, as well as the phone theft concern. She told me she had a friend in London who grabbed a phone out of her hand while she was sitting on the bus. (Remind me never to live there, would you?) I told her about the situations I’d seen at the schools in Florida with kids blatantly stealing phones from other students and even teachers. Heck, when I worked at the NASA contractor, one of my friends had her phone stolen off her desk. When we were at O2 over the weekend, we saw that an iPhone can cost up to £719 out-right. Good thing I only have a Windows phone, but still.
In Orlando, it was illegal for people to be visibly drunk in public and cops were everywhere, waiting to nab someone. Here, according to the policewoman, it’s illegal for anyone to shout obscenities like that in public. (Can you imagine how many people in Florida would be arrested if that were the case there?) The logic is, children may hear this, or elderly people would be intimated (heck, it intimidated me) by the rude, loud, bullying type of behaviour. The policewoman thought that these kinds of incidences would be more prevalent here. I told her Americans have less shame about being rude to people; plus they may or may not have a weapon.
Moral of the story is: sit around other people, not alone on a bench where no one can see craziness take place. Be aware of your surroundings. Stay away from loud, potentially drugged/drunk/mentally disturbed people.
And drive a car because the bus station can get creepy.