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Old 09-07-2012, 08:47 AM
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Ayatollahgondola Ayatollahgondola is offline
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Default A Night In The South Sac War Zone

A Night In The South Sac War Zone

For the past week I have had the good fortune of income generating work in the field of my experience, which has been rather scarce for me this entire year. I have also had the misfortune of performing that work in one of the most economically devastated, and crime saturated sections of the whole county. The work was an older independent grocery store that the business owner was shutting down rather suddenly over lease and profitability issues. The lease was the most pressing, as there were unlawful detainer actions in progress, so the entire job was under extreme diress, We had to get as much of the trade fixtures out of the building and off the lot within a few days. A grocery store liquidation is a tough job, what with all the refrigeration equipment and a zillion and a half bolts, nuts, screws, wire, rope, tape, and whatever else holding it all together, and after 35 years, most of it rusted, stripped, and encrusted with decades old grease. All of that, plus working around the owner's going-out-of-business sale at 50% off, with customers scurrying about as you have parts and pieces, sharp edges, heavy objects, and extremely slippery refrigeration oil all over the floor. But all that is normal for me. What isn't normal is having to defend your tools, the product, and your person the entire time from homeless, street urchins, scavengers, thugs, thieves, the mentally ill, and most likely, parolees and fugitives.

This store is located in the South Sac war zone. The neighborhod it served has made the news for having the most repossessed homes in the whole county. In addition, this area has deteriorated over the last couple decades from lack of jobs and opportunities, and an influx of "immigrants". That's to say nothing of the culture of entitlement that already existed there from whole communities addicted to the social welfare system.

The second day I was there, I ventured to the truck to get some tools, and a serious brawl was underway in the parking lot. Four participants swinging baseball bats, and some homemade implements at each other, some striking bone pretty hard. I quickly grabbed the gun, and tried to break it up. One guy was hurt pretty bad, showing a huge, serious looking lump near the temple, that was dripping blood. I urged the others to stay back and called the police and ambulance. Meanwhile the other participants stood by menacingly, some attempting to close in every so often. After a while, all of them dispersed, including the injured guy. By the time the cops got there, I had put the gun away, and started to expain the situation. The first officer on scene interrupted me and said, "it was a bum fight". Ok; let's say it was. The injured guy is still hurt pretty bad, and needs attention. The cop replied that there was only 4 of them to patrol this whole area this weekend, and that he would drive over and look for the guy, but that he wasn't going to waste more than two minutes of his time on a bum fight.

Homeless are all around this area in pockets next door, behind the store, and in vacant and even not so vacant properties close by. You cannot leave any tool, drink, or other property of yours unattended for a second or it will be gone. Plus, every 15 minutes someone is asking if they can have this, or have that, asking for money or a cigarette, or trying to engage you in some ridiculous conversation where their thought process is compromised by substances or natural impairment. But soon you begin to appreciate the one's that even ask.

One night the scavengers broke in to the compressor room and stole some of the copper refrigeration tubing that we had spent the day unbolting. So the next day we made a big push to dismantle it all, Unfortunately this resulted in having a huge pile of copper outside at dark, and the only thing to do was stay there and protect it 'till morning. So I went home and cleaned up, grabbed a second gun for the night, and took along some food and drink. I settled in behind the store for the night, inside the cab of the truck with a pillow, blanket, and two loaded firearms. This area behind the store is littered with cardboard bales, pallets, broken store fixtures, broken bottles, shopping carts and other debris that should have been hauled off last year. It basically resembles an abandoned entrprise in some inner city. Unfortunately the scavengers have not abandoned it.

Just before midnight, a succession of gunshots rang out. Large caliber, within two blocks. About 15 minutes later the ghetto-bird is circling overhead. Don't know what was up with that one, but about an hour later, another series of gunshot cracked again, this time smaller caliber, and a little farther away. Thoughout the night, four different times I heard gunshots. It was about this time I started wondering if I was in over my head here, but then again, all of our hard work and income had to be protected, and it was obvious that we weren't going to get that from the law here. So I dozed off around 1:00 am, and was stirred awake at 3:15 am with someone walking towards me. Mind you; it's 3 am, and to get to where I am, you have to walk through a big gate that has all kinds of no tresspassing signs, walk about 100 yards behind the store, and then crawl through a hole cut in the fence by thieves, than another 100 feet to where the truck was parked. Then this guy has the nerve to come right up to the truck where he can see the handgun in my lap, and ask if he can take stuff from the area. I knew he wasn't alone, but told him to leave immediately. He did leave, but my thoughts were that his buddies sent him, the stupid one, over to see if I was armed and dangerous. I dozed off again only to be jarred awake, probably by sound, to see two shadows coming towards me at 50 yards. They turned directly towards the compressor room where the theft had occurred the night beofre, so I knew they were connected. I put my hand on the key, and the other on the lightswitch, and hit them both simultaneously. As the two shadows bolted from the room and turned towards the roadway, I charged behind them with the truck. they tripped over various items as they made their way through the hole in the fence, and then sprinted down the road behind the store, thankfully that was the last visitor I had for the evening. I slept a bit more and awoke to a homeless woman looking through her small stash of items she collected last night somewhere. I whipped up a meal of leftovers my wife packed for me from the weekend barbeque I had missed while working double and a half shifts in this hell-hole. It was good to see the sun, and only contend with homeless.

South Sac is not a place to raise a family, and I wonder why anyone lives there, but I guess a lot of people don't, from the sound of gunfire and sirens. I finished this job yesterday, or at least we got most of it out given the time frame. I was so dirty each morning, that I threw my clothes away, and had to use that orange had cleaner 3 times to get my arms and hands looking like skin again. There was a lot more stories and lessons learned from this job, but I thought the uninitiated might get a taste of what South Sac is like.
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:13 PM
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Ayatollahgondola Ayatollahgondola is offline
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An epilogue to this story is appropriate,

Our time ran out on this job, and the landlord took possession on saturday morning. The landlord contacted me shortly after, to get an idea if I was interested in finishing the job for him instead of the previous store owner. While we were talking, he told me that the power room outside had already been broken into and was at the beginning stages of being cannibalized. Less than 24 hours is all that took. News of this caliber travels fast in tweaker circles. Once they discovered that the guy with the gun who was gaurding the goods was gone, tools were sharpened and bike trailers were hooked up. I met the landlords rep there today, and they had already installed a chainlink fence around the front of the store the entire length. An alarm company was there wiring the place for sound and motion. I'll bet that won't even do the trick
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