NYC Street Etiquette 101: Laundry detergent stolen?

One of my neighbors is an amazing, friendly, kind, (I think from out of town) white male. He has an amazing positive vibe and energy, just an all around nice guy. We happen to live in a neighborhood that is generally a relatively nice and safe place in the Queens county area. This should give you some perspective as to what is to follow.

This morning he said to me “Angel, this is going to sound a bit weird, but I was doing laundry and walked away for a few minutes, when I came back my almost full very big jug of laundry detergent was gone. Isn’t that weird? Has that ever happened to you in this building? I’m so surprised.”

My response to that statement contained no surprise whatsoever. “That’s not weird to me at all man, this is NYC.” I told him that I grew up in the South Bronx, so I never leave any of my valuables unattended, I’m conditioned to guard my things. Even a jug of laundry detergent which. is actually expensive. I do sometimes leave softener sheets, but I hide them. I said to him, “the way I see it, I never give them a chance to steal my items.”

You never know who’s around you, who lives in your building, who they are or what is in their heart. We live in a relatively safer place for sure, but you never know who’s around, so always err on the side of safety.

This applies all across the board, not just when it comes to thieves. The old man being nice to my son by giving him a coloring book? Potential pedophile. He actually had his number hidden in between the coloring book! The guy being nice to my wife? Potential abuser. And on and on it goes. I’m always aware. I am kind and sociable, I’m not saying everyone is bad, but keep your wits about you and always stay aware.

In my world, I am always among lions, so I guard my land, our food and my cubs as fiercely as I ever have. I never let my guard down. The worst mistake you could make about me is to think that my current neighborhood and lifestyle have made me soft or that I’ve forgotten the rules of the street. I don’t live that lifestyle anymore, but the “ways of the street” will always be a part of my genetic makeup until the day I die. You don’t just forget years and years of conditioning. You always remember. So I will always live with a healthy amount of cynicism.

I grew up in a rough neighborhood during an era when your sneakers would get stolen right off of your feet, your hat would get taken off of your head, a coat, headphones, even the Lee patch on your jeans was fair game for the thieves and criminals.

Given my life experience, as far as I am concerned if I leave anything out, I’m tempting humanity to take it from me. Which also happens to be part of the reason why I never wear jewelry. DMX said it best:

Who you really think give a freak how much your watch cost? (mm-hmm)
How much your watch cost? You bout to get your watch lost (aight)
If you flashin it, you must not want it
See I freak with real brothers that done it
You know what time it is, run it!

After our brief elevator conversation my neighbor then said to me

That’s a great point, never give them a chance.

I’d like to think one of the staff stored it for him, or something off like that? Maybe? Its possible, but if someone is still doing laundry and clothes are washing, then why would a staff member assume that they forgot it? That tide got wisked away. (Get it? Laundry humor.)

In any case, my neighbor seems to have taken away the main point of our conversation “Don’t give them a chance to rob you.” I feel bad for him, he’s a good guy and believes that people are inherently good, and though he may be right, it’s a shame that the world insists on making everyone into cynical, untrusting human beings.

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