I am still having trouble adjusting to Washington. There is more than a little culture shock, and I'm not sure if it's because I was in the army or because I grew up in the south or both.
Once I took my brother and his girlfriend to see a movie. A homeless woman came up to us begging for money. My brother's girlfriend was young and not used to dealing with panhandlers. I gave the woman some change and tried to usher her away from us. The girl pulled out six dollars, a five and a one, intending to give the woman a dollar, but before she got her hand all the way out of her pocket with the money the woman grabbed the money. I grabbed the money before the woman could take off with it, and refused to let her have all those she was shrieking and spitting in my face. There were cops across the street having a coffee break, and when we finally got the woman to leave we went to tell them what happened. They totally didn't care. I was baffled.
Another time my boyfriend and I were getting coffee, and a homeless guy pulled out a crack pipe and starting smoking crack right in front of us. I made my boyfriend tell the barista to call the cops but she just kind of shooed the old man off. I was indignant, because the man took off with his crack and started panhandling a block over. So I followed him while my boyfriend tried to get the cops on the phone on a non-emergency number. I followed him until I saw a police cruiser. I flagged the cop down and pointed the guy out and told him that the guy had crack on him and what happened. The cop sighed and rolled his eyes and said he would keep an eye out for him.
I find shoplifters, I keep an eye on them and tell the store manager. Once I caught a woman trying to use a stolen credit card, and I had the store call the police and I wrote a detailed statement including their car plates because I followed them out to their car.
When I see someone doing something to make my neighborhood unsafe, I can't let it slide. People tell me things like "Why'd you have to ruin that homeless guy's day?", or "Why didn't you just walk away?" and I am completely baffled. Why would I allow someone to get away with using dangerous drugs, or trying to rob people, or steal in my neighborhood? If they get away with it, they'll just do it again. Dangerous drugs like crack mean there are dangerously unstable people in my neighborhood and that doesn't make me feel safe. People who steal one way will try and steal another way, only maybe next time they try and steal from me. People who try and mug young people outside of movie theaters ought to be arrested.
I can't get anyone to see this from my perspective. There are all these weird "urban survival" rules, where everyone pretends not to see bad things happening so they don't have to get involved. Like it's such a big deal to watch from a safe distance and remember what you see until the authorities can get involved. These people drive me crazy. It's like they want their neighborhoods to be unsafe. I don't want that crack head to hurt some kid because he goes crazy on a bad batch of crack. Not if I can point him and his illegal and dangerous behavior out to the cops. Even the cops are like "whatever". C'mon. This is sad. I don't have a superhero complex, and I don't do anything that endangers me, I just pay attention and let the authorities know what happened. It takes like half an hour out of my day. Well okay, I do know surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques, but really all you have to do is stay a safe distance away and watch while pretending not to be watching. I don't recommend anybody go following dangerous drug dealers down dark alleys, but you can see which alley they went into and point it out to the cops.
I think my training makes me more likely to be able to provide accurate and specific information, because I know what information the cops need to know in order to be able to catch the guys. I don't know, maybe I'm crazy and the rest of the city is sane. Maybe I'm just in a unique situation, but I don't seem to have the ability to deliberately turn a blind eye to things like that.
The VA kept telling me I should get a job in law enforcement and I laughed at them. My obviously debilitating disabilities make that an unsafe and unhappy career path for me. Plus I don't take orders really well, despite my five years in the military. The cops are restricted by way too many rules, which is mostly a good thing, but it sends them out fighting with one hand tied to one of their feet hopping towards a gun fight. Then the prisons are overcrowded so bad guys get out in a quarter of the time they should have, often leaving more dangerous than when they went in.
Our society is way screwed up. We spend way too much time, money, and energy protecting criminals instead of protecting their victims. Everybody else is just trying to justify living in dangerous areas by pretending to be deaf, blind, and mute when anything bad goes down. Those same people throw hissy fits whenever something happens to them! Why aren't the cops doing their jobs? Why did you let this happen to me and what are you going to do to protect me? I love the hypocrisy. I really feel the urge to cackle madly when I hear that kind of stuff. People cling tightly to their ignorance, don't they? I don't understand why people won't do simple things to help make the situation better for everyone?
It's not my job to fix these problems when I see them, but who else is going to do it? If it obviously benefits me to do something about it, then damnit I'm going to do it. People are stupid! These little things that can be done to ensure the neighborhood is a little bit safer, are avoided like the plague. "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."