I hated who I was today.
So this guy waved at me when I was pulling into work today. I didn't wave back, I just watched him as he walked across the parking lot. I never took my eyes off of him. I watched him as he walked through the lot toward the bowling alley next door. I took note of the color of his hat, his size, what he was wearing and the direction he walked. I kept the details in my head. Earlier last week, I would have waved back and said hello.
But things changed last Friday. Last Friday, two of my coworkers we held at gunpoint in the back parking lot of The Times. It was around 5:30 p.m in broad daylight. A guy just walked up to my friends, pointed a gun at them as demanded money. When they hesitated, he cocked the gun.
They gave him what little money they had. I question the wisdom of a criminal robbing journalists, professional observers who don't make much money. But they handed over their wallets and cash to the man with the gun. Thankfully, they were not hurt. The robber just got the cash and ran to a white car waiting behind a hedge of holly bushes which surround our back parking lot and took off. I heard the whole story play out on the police radio I have in the car. I had left the parking lot a few minutes before, almost surely driving past the robbers. My friends were scared and angry after the incident, but thankfully, they were unhurt.
Back to today.
When I parked and walked into work, I saw this guy walking through the parking lot. I did not see him as just a guy walking through the parking lot, anymore. I saw him as a criminal. I saw him as someone who might have a gun and rob me. I saw him as someone who was going to break into my car. I saw him as someone who was strung out on drugs. I saw him as someone who was going to mess me up - just because. I would not have seen him this way a week ago.
When I walked in I saw one of my coworkers watching the man through a window. I walked over to him and watched the guy walk through the last corner of the parking lot. We talked about the guy, compared notes. "Don't you hate this? Don't you hate who we are, now?", I asked. He did.
I hate what the man with the gun has done to my friends. I hate what the man with the gun has done to my workplace. I hate what the man with the gun has done to me. I hate what the man with the gun did to the way I see a man walking through a parking lot. I hated who I was today.