Saturday, September 5, 2009

My first encounter with a Latvian drunk!

Thursday after work, Sister Humphrey and I were waiting outside of our apartment building for a bus to go grocery shopping. We saw this man staggering across the street, dodging cars going both ways. He came right up to us, cigarette in his mouth, asking for a light, in Latvian (or was it Russian?). We told him we spoke English--didn't matter. We told him we didn't have anything to light his cigarette with (hand gestures,etc.). He persisted. After a few minutes, he turned, threw his cigarette down and walked out into the street, putting his finger to his head, like he was going to shoot himself. A bus came and he got out of the street, picked the cigarette up and came up to us again. There were other people there, but no men. He didn't try to get a light from anyone else. And no one came to our rescue.

He finally hit/slapped Sister Humphrey's arm (like a spoiled child who is not getting his own way). I finally said, pointing to my name tag: "Missionaries. Jezus Kristus. Ne tabakas (no tobacco)."

It was interesting when I said "Jezus Kristus," he straightened up for a moment, but then bent over again and continued demanding a light. Finally, he turned and walked onto a bus that had just pulled up. Fortunately, it was not our bus.

It was an interesting experience. There are drunken men on the streets, on the bus, all the time but in more than 9 months, that was the first time one had approached me. He was frothing at the mouth and so out of his head that there was no possibility of reasoning with him.

There is a little basement restaurant right there and a woman who works there witnessed it from the beginning. She called a man out, who made a phone call (we assumed to the police), but who made no attempt to offer help. After the man got on the bus, another man came up the stairs from that restaurant, as though to offer help and we told him the man was gone.

That's probably the first time there was not a man in sight during probably 5 minutes of dealing with that man. No man walked by, got off the bus, or came to wait for the bus. And the women seemed to be completely oblivious to our situation. Of course, shouldn't be surprised about that as they walk with their faces either looking at the ground, or looking straight ahead as though they see no one.

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