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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Question of Conscience.

Ever make a decision and then question your decision? Last night I made one of those decisions.

Around 11pm, I was taking the dog out for a walk and parked in front of my house I found a blue car. Nothing unusual there; I live in Brooklyn and parking is at a premium here. People park where they can find it, sometimes many blocks from their home.

I remembered that the car had been there for a couple of days. Again, not that unusual in my neighborhood. But then I remembered that I saw a guy sleeping in that same car further down the block about a week ago.

Then I saw him. He was back; either passed out or asleep in his car. Actually his upper half was in the car and his feet were outside through the open driver's door. Why the interior light wasn't on, I have no clue. On the ground around the car was a bunch of garbage. I needed to look a little more closely at him, yup homeless.

I started to walk away, but then I made my decision to call the cops. I didn't want a homeless guy living in his car in front of my house. I have a wife and children to protect, not to mention property. Could I leave huge hunks of meat in my backyard smoking overnight with a hungry homeless man nearby? No.

I wanted him gone.

I called 911 and explained the situation. The police operator asked me if he was doing anything illegal. She asked why I was suspicious of the man. She then asked what I wanted the police to do.

I asked that they send someone to check him out. I called my wife and told her about the man and the call to the police. I told her to keep the kids away from the windows and doors when the cops arrive as I didn't want the homeless guy to know I called the police. I then took my dog for his walk.

As I walked the streets of Brooklyn, I was hit with a pang of guilt. Did I do the right thing? What's keeping me from having to live in my car, apart from the fact that I don't own one at the moment? There but for the grace of God, ya know?

I didn't see him doing anything illegal (Is it legal to sleep in your car on the public streets? I don't know, but I know I've done it on occasion.) I pondered this over the entire time Trooper, my dog and I walked. I finally concluded that I did the right thing. If he was a bad guy, the police would take him in. If he needed help, the police could direct him.

Just as we were returning home, a van load of auxiliary police arrived at my house. (For those of you who don't live in NYC, the NY Auxiliary Police are a group of unpaid volunteers who aren't real police but just look that way. Usually they're reserved for crowd control and that sort of thing.) One of the auxiliary cops woke the man up and asked him if he was OK. I couldn't hear the response, but it must have been what the cop wanted to hear because he got back in the van. Another cop told the man that he had to sleep fully in his car, not hanging half out. She and about 4 other cops then got back in van and left.

I checked on him a few times during the night. A couple of hours later, he was still asleep in his car, but now he was nude. Lovely sight, let me tell you, but perfectly understandable it was hot as hell out. As I closed the curtains, I was hit with one of those WWJD moments. I felt really sorry for him. I told myself that in the morning, I'd get him something to eat and some bottled water. Would I be brave (smart? dumb?) enough to invite him into the house to take care of the three S's? What would Jesus do?

In the morning he was gone.

So let me ask you - did I do the right thing?


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Chris said...

That is your call and your call alone. I hope I never find myself having to make that decision. The fact that you questioned it at all, just reinforces the humanity in you.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Terry (aka) Big Daddy said...

You have to do what you have to do brother. Protect your family, protect your home. I would have done the same thing if a strange car was parked in front of my home.

I fear no one, but you never know what people will do...

Protect what belongs to you. If dude wanted help, he would have asked...

Being homeless is a bad deal and unfortunate, but people make their choice, win or lose, it's up to them...


At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't a question of doing the right thing.

That you got to wonderin' about this person's humanity, about whether they were a piece of shit or not, and then confidently choosing the former, is certain; the rest is yours.

You want to know the truth about what you think people sleep in the street for? You want us to tell you why you called the cops on someone who is asleep? I know why you judged him as a criminal? I know why you fight yourself? How someone asleep can be imagined as so capable of evil, so underhanded as to threaten your family?

We don't know.

But we do know you'll be watching. Out through the shades, late at night, for parked cars. Waiting for someone to fall asleep. The rest of us, you paranoid motherfucker, will be out like lights.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Jared said...

I agree with Terry on this one. You can't be too careful. Whether or not there would have ever been a problem is hard to say, but many homeless people have severe mental illness and may not be in full control of themselves. While these people need help and hopefully will receive you need to protect your family as well. On an unrelated note, I live on the UWS and have been trying to determine what the best BBQ restaurant in Manhattan is. I've been to Daisy Mays, Dinosaur, Brother Jimmy's (not very good), Dallas, Hill Country and a few others. I'd be curious to see where your first choice would be for BBQ.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Bill Parlaman said...

There seems to be a string of incidents lately where video has captured people in a bad way some how or other...

one lady just died in the Kings County Hospital's Mental ward while people looked on and did nothing...this included a Dr, two security guards and other patients...


The other incident involved a 75 year old man who was struck by a car and left in the road for dead in the middle of the day while people did nothing!


I think these days far too many people fail to act or take action...

I would have done the same thing! Good Job!

Bill Parlaman

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous texas woman said...

to tell you the truth i don't know what i would have done in your shoes. i can see both sides. there are all kinds of crazys out there these days and it is only natural to want to protect your family.
on the other hand he wasn't really
hurting anyone. he was asleep in his car. is that illigal in new york? i guess when you live in a place like that you get jumpy
and imagine all sorts of stuff.
in the end he was no worse for the wear and neither were you so alls well that ends well. just hope and pray that you don't wind up so down abd out that the only place you have to sleep in the world is your car. how very sad for him.
how do you think he must feel?

At 6:48 PM, Blogger chuckster said...

Next time I park in front of your house Please don't call the cops on me, and post it on a public forum, instead just cut me off a slice of that famous brisket and serve me a cold one. ;)


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