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reading tiger

Strange goings-on

Our end of the block has had some shady goings-on lately. It's starting to concern me, just a little. Not that I have any idea what to do, or if there's anything I can do.*

People parking their cars and then just sitting in them for a long time has been an infrequent but not unheard-of occurrence for a while, but yesterday there was some dude sitting in his for hours. But with no indication that, say, he was homeless and living out of his car, you know? Just waiting and avoiding eye contact.

Similarly, a week or two ago there was a guy standing in the shadows down by the school, where there aren't any street lights and, of course, no interior lighting to break the gloom. Just standing there, waiting for someone or something...in the dark. In front of a closed school.

And then there was the taxi that was set on fire a couple months ago in the middle of the night.

This is not to mention the weird traffic and parking patterns, the occasional parties across the street, the occasional daylight-hour screaming fights across the street likewise.

The screaming fights have abated somewhat. The late-night hanging-around? Huge uptick recently.

I'm pretty tolerant of neighborhood peculiarities. I'm not going to pretend to be all hard and urban and shit, but I used to live up the block from a relatively infamous drug mart and I'm used to that kind of transaction and traffic (and bullet casings along the sidewalk and such, but no syringes thank goodness). Heck, I used to live next door to a guy who was dealing pot out of his apartment and everybody knew it including the building manager. This stuff is not what I am familiar with, and I can't figure out what exactly is going on, and it's starting to worry me. Just a little.

I wonder if I could talk the school** into some motion lights.

* Before you suggest calling the cops, let me remind you that I live in Oakland. That means that a) likely they won't show up, and b) if they do, I am not confident they would be the kind of help I would want. She said with both euphemism and understatement.

** Not our school, alas, which makes it harder.


Usually when guys sit in cars out front for hours like that in my neighborhood, eentually you will see another guy come sit in the car and a transaction take place.

I don't know what kind of recourse you have, if the transaction has ugly side effects or implications.

I used to be real tolerant of drug deals until the cartels got involved at the upper levels and the kids started getting killed on the street. Now I call for everything, like a crazy lady. But I understand our cops are different from your cops.
Usually when guys sit in cars out front for hours like that in my neighborhood, eentually you will see another guy come sit in the car and a transaction take place.

That's what I keep expecting to see! But honestly I've never observed such a transaction. I have occasionally seen two cars that seem to be parking front-and-behind, or blocking the street -- maybe the transactions are now happening car-to-car?

Possibly they are setting up transactions via cell phone and they do it from the car so that their homes are not pinpointed with GPS?
Hmmm. You know, at first blush, it sounds like drugs to me, but I'm also wondering if it's sex work.

There are two things I am thinking about specifically:

You might be living on or near a stretch where folks are doing street work and just be unaware of it. I know that that sounds kinda preposterous, but hear me out: This same thing has actually happened to VERY urban friends of mine, folks who have lived in cities for years, and who know a thing or two about rough neighborhoods with busy street economies.

I have one friend in particular who is white and middle-class and female-assigned genderqueer, and they present fairly butch, and they live in a predominantly Afro-Carribean neighborhood in NYC. And I was hanging out on their block once late at night to catch a bus back to where I was staying -- I was literally at a bus stop *right outside their door*. I was wearing a leopard-print tank top that showed a lot of cleavage, and a mini-skirt, and I got unmistakably solicited TWICE in five minutes. As in, asked if I was working and offered hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Once by a dude walking by, and then the next time by a group of dudes in a car. At first I wondered if the one dude could, like, smell that I was a sex worker or something. I smiled and said I wasn't working and wished him a good night. It was not a harrass-y interaction -- Dude was really pleasant to me, actually -- it was just, you know, not what I was doing that night on that corner.

Then when the car load of dudes rolled up and ask me if I was working, I realized I was waiting for the bus on a working block. Also, it is worth it to mention that the dudes in question were all Afro-Carribean men with pretty thick accents in their 40s or so, who I am pretty sure were interpreting me as either mixed Afro-Carribean or Latina (they were speaking broken Spanish to me).

Anyway, when I mentioned to my friend that they probably lived on or at least very, very near a working block, they were stunned. Simply put, I think there was a piece in there about culture and class, and my being interpreted as a woman of color (which actually happens to me quite a bit, but that's another conversation), and who those dudes thought of as approachable as a potential sex worker, you know? So I was like "Dude, you live on a working corner" but my friend was lke "REALLY???? OMG I HAD NO IDEA."

Now, granted, my friend's corner is definitely more "urban" than yours, but it is also residential and tucked away and pretty chill for NYC. Near a main drag with commerce and stuff, but not ON the main drag, you know?

Anyway. The OTHER thing is, if street work isn't happening around your house, all the weird car behavior and waiting around for people could quite easily be sex work happening in a house (like, a domme house or brothel or whatnot). OR it could be dudes who are drivers for workers waiting for workers to finish up tricks and then take them back to their houses or the next call or whatnot.

Man, this comment is kind of a novel. And I could be totally off-base! But, I dunno, I wonder...
I'm pretty sure it's not street work for a number of reasons -- but it did cross my mind that there might be a brothel (or a "brothel," i.e. a couple in-call apartments) across the street. (The dommes tend to work down on Grand/Lakeshore...)
Yeah, in-call would be my bet. Have you seen any women walking in or out of the buildings, or has all the foot traffic and cars been men?
Like, women who you'd guess would be working, I mean.
All the foot traffic and cars have been men. Most if not all of the daytime altercations have involved women, and honestly I don't look out the windows when the yelling starts because, you know.
I hope either they are not surveilling Andrei, or they're very good at making sure they've got the real one.
Heh. That's right -- I've not posted the end? of the Andrei saga.

I had a conversation with two members of the Oakland Police Department at my local donut shop, after they looked very nervous when I walked in. We cleared up a bunch of incidents that *were* surveilled/reported as Andrei sightings, and they were much more relaxed by the time we were done. ;)
Of course, it could be non-police types. Hrm. Then again, shaving the beard might? have helped...
Now I'm wondering if this activity picked up after you shaved your beard, and the extra-legal element has realized that Andrei is no longer often seen in the neighborhood.
I mean, okay, I don't think this is for reals what is going on, but it'd be kinda hilarious if the strange neighborhood stuff was Andrei-related.