I took the back gate shift the other night, which required me to keep people from coming in and cups from going out. I am able to use my judgment, which can make the job a little tricky, but the cup rule is as rigid as they come. I had already gotten burned by a couple people who came in saying they were just looking for someone and ending up having extended conversations, so I felt the need to crack down. A man began to exit the dining room with a cup, and I told him he needed to throw it out. To my surprise he began to sob, saying all he wanted to do was take his cup for drink outside. Caught off guard, I said yes, and for the first time really looked at him. He had a bandage on his head holding a gauze pad in place and hospital bracelets on his wrist. His face was cut up and his nose, which looked as if it had been flattened, was dripping a combination of blood and mucus.
I asked if he needed anything or if he needed us to call someone for him. He asked for napkins to blow his nosr, and when I came back he told me what had happened. The night before, he and his girlfriend had gotten jumped by a gang. He had received two fractures to his skull and a broken nose. He had no idea where his girlfriend was, and he had left the hospital early to look for her. Through the pain, he remained defiant, saying that since it had taken six men to beat him up, he had won the fight. They were too scared to fight him one on one, so despite his injuries, he had won. I did my best to comfort him, and told him I would look out for his girlfriend before he left.
I had already gathered that this neighborhood was not the nicest part of town. I have seen more arrests, fights, drunks and druggies than the rest of my life combined. However, I had not seen anything like what this man had experienced before. The severity and senselessness of violence made me sick, and my heart went out to the man. I realized not only how difficult, but how dangerous life can be in this neighborhood. A bad day for the guests is very different from my bad day, not only because of the severity but because of the compound effect little events can have. For example, my first week here, I stepped on a woman's glasses in clothing closet, breaking them. Whereas I would only have the mild inconvenience of an extra errand, her interview that day was jeopardized due to the broken glasses. This is important to keep in mind when events that seem harmless to me set guests off. The importance of patience cannot be stressed enough. And gratitude that I grew up in a neighborhood where I could walk and not fear ending up with a fractured skull.