I told him, you know, the nearest place is the "thug store" at 26th and Penn. Are you SURE you want your dad to walk there and get you a beverage on a whim?
Alex announced that was just fine. I could walk to the "thug store" and buy him chocolate milk. So I put on my combat boots and walked to the Penn Gas Stop, where even the cement in the parking lot seems to have a thin layer of filth. As I entered the door, a thug standing near the frozen dairy treats freezer quickly jammed something in his pants at (I presume) the sight of my short military-style haircut which (as many thugs do) he probably thought made me look like a cop. (It also gets me rude treatment at my favorite anarchist cafe, but I keep going there, because--once again--my kid wants chocolate milk)
Within sight of the cash register, inside the store and out of sight of police, multiple transactions appeared to be taking place on cell phones by folks who were just hanging around inside, wearing the same "plain white tees" sold at the store, how convenient. With a beatific and tolerant smile, the clerks were ringing up sales of (inter alia) flaming hot Cheetos.
Wouldn't you know it? They didn't even HAVE chocolate milk. Plus I didn't want to spend even a moment longer inside than was necessary...
Walking outside, I saw a squad car writing some thug a ticket. I waited for the officers to finish, then beckoned to indicate I would like to speak to them. I said rather than calling 911, I wanted to make a verbal report about what I'd seen inside the store. The officer on the passenger side proceeded to tell me the store in question was "tolerating" the blatant drug activity inside, and the city government was unhappy with the store, and bad stuff was coming down the bureaucratic pipeline at that store, you just wait, you'll see.
He also said, "We are going to be around here all day."
I thanked the officer. I didn't even think about the fact this conversation took place in front of the very spot where--a few years ago, in a notorious exchange--an officer told me "Good luck with that" when I spoke of my desire to move into the neighborhood and be involved in the process of turning North Minneapolis into a decent, safe, highly-desirable place to live and raise a family.
So I continued on my walk to find my kid chocolate milk. I probably should have turned right and went to CVS, but something caught my attention and I turned left, instead. I walked all the way down to a gas station on West Broadway near the place where my son helped repair a "rat hole" in a fence where unsavory foot traffic was passing through. I was pleased to see the "vigilante carpentry" midnight repairs in the fence were still holding.
Trying to find my way back to Alex, I walked down Logan Avenue North...and noticed a number of vacant houses which had retaining walls in such bad repair, it was necessary to make 311 reports. Then I started calling about unmowed lawns. Then I realized a squatter had broken into 2444 Logan Ave. N.
By the time I got back to my kid with his chocolate milk, I had managed to make sure city inspectors and lawn mowing contractors would have a great deal of work....probably thousands of dollars worth of labor if you totaled up all the hours. Official letters would go out, reports would be filed which would remain in the system for a very long time...
And all because my kid wanted a chocolate milk!
When I returned, Alex looked up from his computer and asked, "What took you so long?" And I explained how his chocolate milk had sent forth "ripples in the universe."