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Loitering and Vagrancy
Getting Touch with Plantation America as a Low Status Paleface: Utah, 8/18/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
MAR/29/23
Yesterday, Deb and Bob dropped me off at the Verizon store in Heber, Utah to have Flop the Zero Phone autopsied and perhaps reanimated. I was dressed in clean jeans and a gray wife beater, no hat on my bald head. As they pulled off to go to Walmart I noted the extreme cleanliness of the city and the fact that I was the only pedestrian. There are no pedestrians in the Rocky Mountains except for Mexicans wearing their yellow safety vests. The population is a third Mormon and two thirds Godless hipster progressive.
The store was busy. I waited behind an old timer that could not figure out how to answer his book-sized phone. The young, sedentary brown-bearded fellow was nice enough, when he regarded the 4G flip phone and said, “We can’t do anything with this in store. Call 611, customer service, tell them that this thing just died, and they’ll ship you another.”
Ten minutes and out onto the street, I had about 40 minutes to kill and now way of contacting Deb or Bob. I wanted to hide somewhere inside for fear of cops seeing me. I stuck out like a beacon of pale failure in a high desert city of boundless, bustling prosperity.
I went to the Chicks’ Cafe, around the corner on U.S. Route 40, a nice small diner with six four-person tables and one bar with 8 seats. I needed to look like I had business on the street. American does not tolerate a paleface loitering on foot unless he has a cardboard sign and begs alms. Thank God I was not strapped into the ruck sack—I would have caused alarms to go off—“first homeless man in Heber, fastest growing city in America!”
The waitress at the counter was kind and almost sweet, prepping a large styrofoam cup of coffee and handing it with a lid to me as she sat the creamer and a plastic spoon down for me to finish it off as I liked. When I opened my wallet she winced to see that I only had two $5s and five $1s. It made me wince too. I have not been broke for two years now. There was not enough money for me to take up Deb’s offer to go to Wells Fargo. I have to write a check to the Feds soon and need money in the bank to cover it.
Walking outside, I saw no benches or chairs or outdoor seating in sight. In small towns, a cop’s primary job is to get rid of homeless palefaces, to move us along or lock us up and fine us. I walked back to the Verizon store, needing to be somewhere where Deb and Bob could spot me. I stood out front for ten minutes.
Half the coffee gone, I walked back to the back lot in case they had pulled in. There were three other white 4-door Ford pickups, but not theirs. I stood on the side of the building afraid to finish my coffee. I did not want to spend my next-to-last five dollars getting another coffee so that I could use the men’s room.
I was tired, had picked and weeded in the morning sun for a couple hours, still getting used to the altitude. So I leaned against the wall, standing in the gravel edging rather than on the sidewalk to cushion the knees.
A school bus came by, sparsely populated with elementary school kids. A girl of about ten, blonde, with a big grin and a pony tail, opened the back right window and yelled to me over the bustling of some 30 SUVs and pickups and work trucks at the intersection, “Can I have your autograph!”
Wow, if I look like a TV villain, then the masculine standard for menace must be on the wane. I smiled and waved as the bus rumbled on through the intersection, crossing U.S. Route 40, me having been a loser on foot in three states on this unstoried road.
Noticing that many of the motorists, single upscale whites in SUVs, were slowing down to look at me, I walked around front and stood there for a while.
After five minutes, only a couple ounces in the coffee cup that I was now afraid to empty for multiple reasons, I stepped back around to the side of the Verizon building and set the cup between my feet, folding my hands in front of me, looking both ways, constantly, in hopes of seeing Bob and Deb. One third of the vehicles were Mormon white pickups. But not them.
A Wasatch County Sheriff cruiser cruised by, the big, lean young deputy eyeing me with interest as he turned right on 40. I picked up my coffee and took a drink.
After the cop pulled off, I pulled my shirt out of my pants so that the knife string would be covered. I rehearsed answers to the questions about who I am and why I was here. I checked the empty wallet where I keep the I.D. to make sure I didn’t have the tactical pen in that pocket.
Three minutes later the Sheriff’s deputy returned, having circled the block, with a second Wasatch County Sheriff’s cruiser behind him, driven by another big stud, both of them slowing and looking at me as they made a right.
‘Shit!’ I thought, ‘They will circle again, park forward and behind me, dismount and approach me from two angles and begin addressing the existential menace to society that is 59.5 year-old me.’
I decide to walk around front, in hopes of gumming up their plan, as there is no parking spot out there on Route 40.
I stand there assuring myself, ‘I will not be arrested.’
“James! James, we are here.”
I see Bob and Deb and get into the truck before the guardians of the gentry returned.
Being on foot, often with a backpack, usually carrying an out of state I.D. puts me in constant danger of triggering the latent police instinct to function according to their original purpose, as a gaolor/gaolor/jailor, who locked up any person who was not traveling with freedom papers. Loitering and vagrancy are ancient laws that are still on the books and avidly enforced by American police; for America has no use for a person not spending money, now, either by driving, shopping or dining in public. With very few exceptions, public spaces are not to be occupied by people not spending money, unless they are people of color or active panhandlers.
Bob asked me, “Why would the police be interested in you and not me?”
“Because you are driving, you are spending money. I am a pedestrian, the only non-Mexican pedestrian in this region. I don’t belong. I was committing an obvious misdemeanor, a minor crime. What I was doing, waiting for a ride, is against the law in most of this country. Also, they know who you are by your tag number. They don’t know who I am. A loser on foot, very often has a warrant out on him, and a random interview of a white guy on foot will usually net a positive policing statistic, an arrest on an outstanding warrant, which is very often unpaid child support or failure to appear in court on a drug possession charge.”
Plantation America is retooling for a return to its original purpose, limiting the presence and mobility of self-employed or unemployed men of European descent and protecting people of color and whites of means from our evil stain.
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