packin' heat

When one thinks about 24-hour convenience stores, it is hard not to think about armed robbery. That was certainly in the forefront of my ideas, anyway. Facing an armed gunman who wants you to empty the cash register.

That hasn't happened to me yet, but the idea doesn't scare me anymore. For one thing, the cops come through the parking lot several times a night and come in a few times as well. All the locals know that. but, we're right off the interstate, so traveling thugs could pop in.

I learned a bit about dealing with unpredictable people when I was on the streets. Once a guy pulled a handgun on me as I sat, reading and drinking, in the bay of a car wash. We knew each other. He wasn't trying to rob me (I had no money and he knew it). No, he heard from some new guy that I had said something about his girlfriend being a "dumpster diver". I never used those words, but apologized anyway. To be fair, it is true that she didn't literally climb into dumpsters; she picked through the trash by reaching in, just like the rest of us.

But he was high on coke and pissed off, so he reached into his girlfriend's backpack and pulled out a pistol. He pointed it at my chest - he was about 15 feet away - and kept yelling at me.

I pulled open my coat to expose my chest and told him, "Do it! Put me out of my misery!" He got flustered and they left.

Somebody told me a few days later that it was a pellet gun.

But there were a lot of strange and unpredictable people around. Most of the time we all got along OK (we homeless folks, that is). Once in a while somebody would get in a fight with somebody else and get bruised up.

I was good at talking my way out of situations, if I couldn't avoid them in the first place. Usually nobody gave me any trouble. I'm fairly short and thin, so I suppose I'm not very threatening. And I've noticed that people that make some of co-workers nervous don't bother me. I've seen worse. One night I was chatting with one of our regular middle-of-the-night customers when a guy came in wearing a handgun strapped to his leg. Not an every day occurrence, but it really didn't faze me in the least. The guy I had been talking to noticed it first and pointed it out quietly. I said something like, "Yeah. Hmm. Oh well." I had seen the guy before. He was kinda strange but in a small-town way, not a dangerous way.

I am assuming that North Carolina has an open-carry law.

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