Gun violence can strike anywhere. It just struck our family last week. My son is OK, but this single attack could have ended his life — or worse.
You may be imaging where this happened: Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis or some other known mecca for violent crime. No — it happened in suburban Puyallup, Wash. A bullshit small town full of bullshit people doing bullshit things. Could-be-anywhere-USA.
The two bullshit punk fucks that attacked my son with a gun and a bat did so for the express purpose of robbing him. Their take: a wallet with $60 cash and a Samsung phone. So far, it appears they have not attempted to use the phone or his debit card. The great benefit of committing an armed felony (sentence: 31 to 41 months, plus five additional years for using a gun) is 30 bucks each. Assuming, of course, the two geniuses didn’t take up their gun and bat again to relieve the other partner-in-moron-crime of his share. Stupid fucks.
Dead, maimed or emotionally scarred for life
My son is a young adult. If you’re a parent, you know that it doesn’t matter how old your kids are — you still worry about them all the time. They’re no less precious at 22 than they are at 12.
I could have lost him in that one single incident. The rest of his entire life — his struggles, hopes, dreams, mistakes and loves — could have been wiped away. Or he could have been irreversibly maimed for life. It happened at 11:06 p.m. While I was sleeping, miles away, my child was experiencing a near-fatal moment. I knew nothing; could do nothing. Parents are useless.
How about you? You don’t want to imagine it happening to you or someone you love. His circumstances must be different than yours, right? Was he engaging in risky behavior? Yes, as it turns out. But it wasn’t his fault.
He was doing his job
In his young working life, my son is in the food service industry. His duties include delivery. He had returned to the corporate-franchised chain restaurant, when he was accosted by two of Puyallup’s leading scholars. They pulled bandanas on their faces. They rushed him with a bat and a gun. The gun-toting fuck pistol-whipped him in the head, knocking him to the concrete. They took what they could. They ran off.
My son got up. Many don’t.
This isn’t my story. It’s my son’s story. It’s also just one of many stories that happen throughout the United States on a daily basis. Clearly, he was lucky. He will recover from the laceration on his head. He was able to speak to me about it pretty calmly when he called me the next day.
It could have gone much worse in about 100 different ways, and I’m sure it did for many even more unfortunate victims of violent crime on that very same day. And the day after. And the next. He was lucky. We were lucky. Should I thank the punk fucks for their restraint?
I’m a parent of two children. He is my first. When your child is born, if you’re like most people, you are overwhelmed with the surprise of how crazy-in-love you are with your child. I can still remember carrying him around as a baby — at home, in public — and feeling so lucky, important and magical to have that tiny life in my arms. I held him up below my chin. I stole that baby smell right off the top of his head.
The passage of time robs us of those moments. One day, the baby smell isn’t there anymore. Soon after, your kid is too big to hold in your arms. Time takes us on a journey and forces moments to end. Gun-toting dumb fucks aren’t supposed to interrupt our lives. But they do.
My son is not the first person in our family to have been held up at gunpoint. My father (his grandfather) was once held at gunpoint in a robbery attempt in a grocery store he was serving as a route driver for a bakery. This happened decades ago in Seattle. Not entirely dissimilar circumstances from my son’s (unfortunately common and mundane) ordeal. Dad came out fine. My son will probably be fine.
Makes no sense
It’s never happened to me. I find it ironic that gun violence has directly touched my father and son, but not me. Especially since my innate disdain for humans and fiery temper exceed theirs combined. Ten-fold. If it should have happened to anyone in this family, it should have been me. None of us are thrill-chasers. One of us cannot resist the most meager of fights. Fate skipped the wrong generation.
It’s said that violence begets violence. Yeah, it does. Papa bear never wants to stop protecting his young. I cannot do anything about what happened to my son. I am as useless as can be. But the sorry story will continue.
There will be a future confrontation. Someone will in some way (physically or verbally) accost my daughter. Or maybe my son again. Or my wife. Or my dog, if I had one. My son’s story, related to me over a borrowed phone, will certainly fortify my next reaction to an aggressive stimulus. It’s filed away. But it will come out again. There will be no benefit of the doubt. There will be reaction. And protection. Rage.
Whatever calmness I may have been conditioned to react with in this almost inevitable scenario is now diminished. Papa bear is that much closer to the surface. If I’m around, that is. If I’m miles away, asleep. I’ll be as useless as I am now.
This has been a scare. I want to return the scare to those two asshole morons. But I won’t ever see them. The next guy, though….
Civilized society says that we aren’t supposed to react that way. Civilized society can go fuck itself. These are my kids. Parents know. I hope the future me does the smart thing. The current me isn’t so sure I can or even want to.
He’s OK. We’re OK. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. Unless you’re a parent.