I used to drive semi's for Perry Drug Stores.
Every Monday I drove to Chicago where I delivered to 4 stores in the Chicagoland area.
The first store on my Route was at 115th. Street and Washington Ave. on the South side of Chicago.
As Jim Croce said in his song "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown",
it was in fact...THE "baddest part of town"! I was the low seniority driver, so I got stuck with it...no one else wanted to go!
I don't say this because it was the local chapter of the V.F.W. (as in Very Few Whites), but because in the couple years I delivered there, there was a shooting IN the store, and a slashing.
The shooting: two elderly gentlemen(60's-70's) were standing in line for lottery. While looking at his slip, one lost his balance(Alcohol may or may not have been involved) and bumped into the fellow in front of him. This man became angry and shoved the "bumper", even though he had apologized. This enraged the bumper, who shoved him back...hard. At this point the gentleman in front (the bumpee) produces a small .38 cal. revolver and empties all six shots into the poor bumper...killing him dead.
Over bumping into him in line.
Over bumping into him in line.
In the slashing: while we were unloading the truck, we heard a cashier scream! We all dropped what we were doing and ran to her aid. What we found was a twenty something fellow doing his best to hold his intestines inside his body. He had been slashed with a straight razor from groin to nipple...by his brother....over a woman!!!
Now one of the guys that helped me unload the truck, was a jovial, heavyset young black man named Leon.
Leon and I got along famously! We laughed and joked all the time, he always made my day. I was the only white guy Leon had ever really known.
He told once told me how things were hard for him sometimes because he only had a 7th. Grade education.
Leon was the father of six, and this was one of several jobs he worked to make ends meet. We'd take turns buying our little group sodas, Leon and I both preferred Coca Cola.
I tell you all of this so you'll know why I'm sometimes so ashamed of myself.
I had been letting my hair grow out for a while, you couldn't really tell because I wore a baseball cap at work most of the time. Hard to keep your "Do" straight when you're sweating your ass off unloading trucks!
So in the vein of both trying something "new" and ease of maintenance I decided to try a short, tight perm! Step out of the shower, towel dry, run a pick through it and go...easy peasy!
So the Monday after I had this done, I headed off to Chicago. I pulled into the alley behind the store, and rang the buzzer. The door flew open and out bopped Leon...
"My man Joe!!!" He said then skidded to a stop.
"What da helllll happen to yo hair bro?"
At this point, not having considered anyone's reactions...my twisted sense of humor kicked in...hard!
"I don't know Leon," I said, all serious "I woke up in the motel last Tuesday morning to THIS" I told him pointing to my hair.
"Whadafuq?" Leon responded.
" I know, weird right??? I can't think of what could've hap....wait a MINUTE!!! You remember last week we both got cokes when we took a break?"
"Yeah" he said looking bewildered
"And we set them down on the back of the truck to finish up?" I asked.
"I bet we got the bottles mixed up...I got your pop, and you got mine...THAT MUST BE IT!!!!" I said with the excitement of discovery.
"Wha???" said Leon, then watching him I could literally watch the implications of what I said wash over him...
"Oh my GOD!!!" cried Leon "OH MA GOD!!! You don't really thing das it? Do you???"
"That's all I can think of Leon...man, I can't even wear any of my hats...they won't fit over this" I was on a roll now!
"You feel any different Leon? Notice any changes?!?"
"Unh uh...man like what??? Watcho think DAT shit'll do to me man??? Oh shit!!"
"I don't know...I've always been "me", I don't know...is your hair any straighter?"
He grabbed some of his hair and pulled it so he could see ( he wore a Billy Dee Williams jerry curl).
"I don think so, ...maybe...damn, my wife's gon be pissed!!! Man she love ma hair!!!"
He was really starting to get upset...and I was starting to feel guilty...so I fessed up.
"Naw Leon, man I'm sorry...I'm just messin with you. We didn't mix up our drinks, and it wouldn't mater if we did. I had this done, it's a perm."
"A 'PERM' what da hell is a perm???"
"Well Leon, when white folk want their hair curly like this. They put rollers in their hair and put chemicals on it to make it stay that way "permanently", so they call it a perm!"
He looked at me like I just told him I was an alien.
"You mean ta tell me, you did DAT shit to yo hair...on purpose?!?" He asked.
"Damn man..." He said shaking his head "you white folks be crazy!!"
Through the next couple hours, every now and then he'd start chuckling...
"Man, you scare't da shit right outta me....you jus ain't right!!"
Sometimes I'm so ashamed...lol!