Today, I went to the police station to file a report against my neighbor, who threatened a friend of mine while he was at my house.
I did not want to go. In fact, more than a week has passed since the incident, that’s how badly I didn’t want to go. The incident happened on Saturday, and I didn’t even call the police until Monday morning, so I could call the “non-emergency” phone number.
Ever since I heard what happened (I wasn’t even home at the time), I’ve felt weighted down by a kind of wet blanket of dread. I decided against doing laundry, for instance, because I knew I’d have to go past the neighbor’s door. I didn’t go in through the garage at night like I usually do, so that it wouldn’t be so obvious when I was arriving home. Once I was in my house each evening, I didn’t go back down the stairs at all.
I’ve always considered myself pretty tough. I mean, as a kid, I was regularly getting into physical fights with boys. As a grown up I’ve lived in a lot of lousy neighborhoods, and I cannot remember a time that I felt afraid just coming home, or going running at night. For a long time I regularly ran at midnight. Granted, at that time I had a big dog, but you know, no big dog can protect you from gun violence, right?
And that’s what’s at the heart of this. In fact, my neighbor has yelled at me and another person who was here at the house with me before. I have heard both neighbors yelling at each other, and once even heard him threaten to kill her over some missing stuff. And all of that, I was over looking. Don’t get me wrong, if the shouting downstairs had ever escalated to something that sounded really dangerous, I would have called, but so far, none of it seemed too bad. I know that these things happen when he’s drinking. And that mostly only happens on weekends, pretty late at night.
But Saturday he threatened to go get his gun, and for me, that changed everything. When everyone I talked to (from the SF Housing people to the cops to the realtor guy) that I needed to file a police report I was like, “Ha! What? File a police report and then what? He finds out and shoots me right through the door?”
I realize that may sound ridiculous, cuz, hello, he’d be the first suspect and all that, but he really does get drunk. And people who are very drunk are NOT rational.
It took a lot of courage to go, and when I went it was not reassuring at all. I guess I had imagined something like a scene from TV, where you sit down across from someone and they take down your statement and then say something like, “I’m glad you made the report but hey, it’s probably going to be fine.” (what?! I said I was imagining)
But that isn’t what happened at all. I spoke to a police person through some bullet proof glass, filled out a form (badly), had said form corrected by the police person, who then told me I needed to go to another office all together and get a restraining order. I mean, we live in the same building. All the same, she said, I should do it, so that he could be arrested if he did it again. “What is your landlord doing about it?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said, “what should they do?” “Well,” she said, “maybe he doesn’t pay his rent on time, then they can kick him out!”
The whole process did not fill me with calm. I’ll let you know how it turns out with the dread.