My girlfriend lives in the Tenderloin, which is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Francisco. Yesterday we were walking to the store and we passed by a homeless guy in a wheelchair going the opposite direction. We crossed the street and we suddenly heard screaming from behind us, right where we just were. Screams aren’t that uncommon in the TL where crackheads and crazy people run rampant, but this was different. It was someone screaming in terror. I turned around to see what was happening.
I saw a blonde lady on the ground behind the cars parked by the curb. She was screaming but I couldn’t tell why until a guy ran past me towards the girl. He was yelling “No! No way! Get off her! Get off her, man!” I knew something was wrong so I told my girl to wait and I ran after the guy to see what was up. The homeless guy was no longer in his wheelchair, he was on the ground bear hugging the blonde lady as she was screaming for her life. The homeless guy saw that he was surrounded by a bunch of angry bystanders and he let her go as more people showed up and surrounded him to keep him from going anywhere. She got up, crying and sobbing, completely terrified. I stood between her and the homeless guy who slinked back into the wheelchair. Suddenly I heard screeching tires and a bike cop appeared out of nowhere.
I looked around and was surprised at how many people were all around us. The street was empty a moment before, but now there were about thirty people all around us. There were cellphones out taking video, everyone asking everyone else what had happened. The blonde lady knew she was safe now and she explained that she was walking by him when he stood up out of his wheelchair, grabbed her, and pulled her to the ground. The cop detained him and I hung around for a few minutes to make sure the blonde lady was ok. I asked her if she needed me to call anyone for her. She pulled out a cigarette and a nice crackhead came up and gave her a light. I overheard another crackhead scolding the creep, saying things like “You piece of shit, what if someone did that to your mother? Or your sister? Fuck you, man! You fucked up now!”
A couple more cops showed up on the scene. Nobody asked for my statement and me and my girlfriend eventually walked away talking about how crazy the whole situation was. It was broad daylight and we had just walked past that guy. He could have attacked my girlfriend if I wasn’t with her. I didn’t like the Tenderloin before and now I really don’t like it. I’m always going to feel uneasy for her to walk around her own neighborhood. I want her to carry Mace or a Taser at all times but I know that she might not have time to use it. Her most effective weapon would be to scream bloody murder like the blonde lady did. Her screams saved her life.
So be careful out there. The world is a dangerous place. I saw how fucked up some people can be. But I also saw how good some people can be. A lot of us ran to help a complete stranger. They were young and old, all different races, some were homeless and some were in business suits. That’s great for humanity and all, but the lesson to take away is that it only takes a second for a scumbag to fuck everything up. That blonde lady is lucky that there were good people there to save her but she’s never going to be able to walk down the street feeling safe again. She’s scarred for life.
Critically Rated at 3/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young