It was a cold night.Â A fine sleet pelted me as I walked down Seneca towards town to do some last minute shopping.Â Walking on the north side of the street, I approached 6th Avenue where cars came roaring off the freeway.Â I wasnâ€™t paying much attention as I looked straight ahead, hoping to make the light.
I felt something hard press against my back.Â A gruff voice said, â€œSir, I will not hurt you, but I want your money.Â You can keep your cards, just give me your money.â€
I turned around to look.Â The man had a dark beard, wore a bill cap and had a neck scarf thrown around his neck with the last swing covering his face except his eyes.Â His gun was pointing right at my heart.
â€œMy friend, if you need money you donâ€™t have to rob me for it and endanger yourself to many years in jail.Â Iâ€™ll share what I have with you.â€
I took out my wallet and removed the bills and said, â€œOkay, here is a ten for you and a ten for me, a twenty for you and a twenty for me.â€Â I gave him another ten and a five and took the same for me.Â â€œHereâ€™s a one for you and another one for me.Â Iâ€™ve got an extra buck so you can have it.Â That leaves me forty-six bucks for groceries this next month.â€
â€œIs that all the money you have?â€ he asked.
â€œThat will not do,â€ he said.Â â€œI donâ€™t rob poor people.Â Here let me share with you.â€Â He stuck the money I had given him in his pocket, opened his wallet and gave me two 100 dollar bills.
â€œYou are not going to get rich giving back more than you take,â€ I said.
â€œGetting rich is not why I rob.Â I give most of the money I take to homeless people.â€
â€œYou could get killed robbing people with that toy pistol.â€Â I had seen that it was a toy from the light of a passing car.
â€œIâ€™m not afraid to die, but I will never kill anymore people.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve killed people?â€
â€œYes, far too many.Â Iraq and Afghanistan and I feel terrible for what I did for this government.â€
â€œThat wasnâ€™t murder.Â You were being a patriot.â€
â€œPatriot, hell, it was just plain old murder as far I am concerned.â€
â€œIf you only rob rich people, why did you stop me?â€
â€œYouâ€™re wearing an expensive leather jacket.â€
â€œI bought it at Goodwill for five bucks.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be darn.â€™
â€œHey, letâ€™s go have a cup of coffee,â€ I said.Â â€œMaybe we can figure out a way you can help the homeless without robbing people.â€
â€œIâ€™ll listen to you, but I donâ€™ think you can come up with any faster way getting bucks.â€
After we settled down in a quiet corner of a cafÃ©, deserted by the cold and the season of Christmas Eve, I asked, â€œWhy do you think you should rob rich people?â€
â€œThatâ€™s where the money is.Â Besides, they pay so damn little in taxes with all of their dodges, while the poor working stiffs pay the full course.â€
â€œI agree,â€ I said.Â â€œWe did have a taxing program that allowed the government to help less fortunate people.â€
â€œYeah, but thatâ€™s all changed.Â They fucked up the laws so they donâ€™t pay their fair share.Â Iâ€™m just doing a little equalizing.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t find the real rich people walking the streets.Â They ride in chauffeured limousines.â€
â€œI know, but I catch a few of their sycophants and they know Iâ€™m here.Â Thatâ€™s why they donâ€™t walk the streets.â€
â€œYou could start a non-profit corporation and get donations to help the poor.â€
â€œHa!Â Then you have a whole staff to pay and too little gets to the people who need it.â€
â€œYes, but look at the risk you take by robbing people.â€
â€œI just even the score,â€ he said.Â â€œIt gets my adrenalin goinâ€™ and most of the money I take gets recycled to the people who really need it.â€
â€œWhat a society weâ€™ll have if everybody takes up your habit.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry.Â Most people don’t have guts enough to do what I do.Â Besides, Iâ€™m just small potatoes compared to those Wall Street banksters and corporate CEOs.â€
â€œCanâ€™t argue with that,â€ I said.
â€œBesides, I give the rich guys something to tell their kids and grandkids about.Â Probably more excitement than the last time the raped and plundered another corporation.â€
â€œLook, they sent me over to kill and maybe get killed so they could make big bucks.Â Now they are getting a little blowback.â€
â€œCanâ€™t I talk you out of this way of life?â€
He stood up, tipped his hat, did a low bow and said, â€œMerry Christmas,â€ turned and left.
I said a little prayer for him and our mixed up world that sends such good-hearted people out on such a mission.