Close Calls

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It was a peaceful, beautiful day and I had a break from my tightly scheduled routine to finally replace the broken stereo in my SUV. The sound of silence is nice, but after four weeks, the voices in my head were beginning to scream at me, not to mention when the kids are riding, music seems to soothe the beasts. (Or at least drown them out)

I was in Slidell for this task and one look at my watch told me I had twenty more minutes to kill before rescuing the elementary school at PRC. I decided to visit Big Lots on my way home.

I got more than I bargained for. Besides purchasing a few deals, I also found myself in a shoot out involving the bank next door.

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When you hear one shot, and you know it’s a gun shot, your brain begins rationalizing the sound, explaining it away as if maybe what you heard was a backfire or something similar. You then focus on where it is coming from. I really did not expect to see a guy with a gun in the Big Lot parking lot shooting at the bank. I thought, that is not right, the bad guys usually shoot their way out of the bank.

So, meanwhile, I just stand there watching as if it’s all on television. I am not alone. Everyone is standing watching this guy shooting, then taking off in his truck and chasing another SUV away. Sirens are almost immediately afterwards and nothing really makes sense.

The moral of the story is when one hears a gunshot, then sees that it truly is a gunman, shouldn’t one duck, squat, or hide? Yet, I did not see one person hit the deck. I saw many with cell phones to their ears, frozen, watching the scene play out.

I discovered the rest of the story the next day on the front page of another newspaper with the word Picayune in it…..four dudes donned ski masks and entered the bank; the guy that had parked next to me saw what was happening and alerted the police. Since he was an off-duty officer he waited for the suspects to come out. By now, I am in front of the store and the fireworks began, although all four suspects were armed, they did not fire back. That’s where I would have been in trouble. The bullets would have been coming at me rather than away.

The cops got the bad guys and no columnists were injured.

It’s a cliché, but it was a close call. A close call can be more than a play at second base, it may involve a situation that could have resulted in accident, injury or death but thanks to a timely intervention by a narrow margin someone escapes the potentially hazardous moment.

Any incident where I am standing near a shooter is a close call in my book.

Recently a school in Green Bay, the land of the Packers, had a close call with crime but thanks to one young hero who did not withhold valuable information about students wanting to blow up and shoot up the school. It did not happen because he told and the would-be-mass murderers are in jail. That’s a close call.

Being a Saints fan, close calls usually go to the other team, but not this week. For the first time I feel like the curse could actually be broken. It didn’t feel like your grandma’s Saints anymore. We got respect on Monday night, instead of pity. We got a win that was not ugly, lucky, or against a team that had more issues than ours. It was a game to be proud of and a night to be celebrated for years to come. Possibly the only thing to out hype this past Monday night game would be a Saints Superbowl at the Superdome.

Even if the team loses the rest of its games, I have Saint’s satisfaction.

At least I was around to see it. I wonder how safe our hometown and surrounding towns are now that the post Katrina world has transformed us into mini New Orleans’s. I like my new neighbors, but I’m not liking the bad guys crawling out of the city and robbing us in our neighborhoods.

Hopefully we won’t return to the old west kind of town where I have to carry my gun on my hip, but at least back then, according to all the westerns I have seen, they stand in the middle of the street for all to see that a shoot out is about to happen. That gave people the message to run and hide because shooting was upon them. Not like these days, where no one gets a heads up and we stand and watch.

Unfortunately, some folks don’t need to be packin’, like my mother for instance. Years ago, she managed a clothing store, Kenwin’s, which was located in downtown Picayune. After one incident of an armed robbery, she began to carry a gun in her purse, legally of course. But not sensibly. For instance, if she were robbed, she would have to dig in her purse for a good three minutes to find the weapon. Then, once aimed, it would probably not fire for all the bits of junk that had stopped up the barrel. And why? It was not her money anyway.

Just ask my mom if the gun was loaded and she would point it up at her face and look in the barrel. Yes, some people do not need a gun. I cringe at her close calls.

Thankfully, this hurricane season we have not had any calls, let alone close.

So, next time you witness a shoot out, try to remember this girl’s words…….get down, you idiot!

Or the next call will be the roll up yonder!