I was driving out of my apartment complex when I turned right on to Fruitdale Avenue this afternoon when the radio announced that there was a shooting at McDonald’s on the corner of Fruitdale Avenue and Bascom Avenue. Not surprisingly, I was driving towards it as I was heading over to the freeway to go to HP campus in Cupertino for a job interview. Passing by a dozen police cars and forced to drive through hospital (which isn’t as bad being forced to drive through the airport), I started stressing out. Not because the shooting would break out again. The shooting that took place underneath the Golden Arches was several hours old by then, and the police were still documenting the crime scene. I was more concern about being late for the job interview. By the time I got to the HP campus, I was no longer nervous about the interview.
That is the second murder in the general area, and there were two rapes at San Jose City College, in the last six months. I have lived in this area for nearly six years. The worst reported crimes before these recent events was probably gang graffiti, teenagers pulling the fire alarms at my apartment complex, and several Christmas time house fires. Of course, most crimes in the neighborhood probably go unreported by victims for fear of retaliation or underreported by the news media looking for the big story to drive the headlines.
What prompted all these recent murders and rapes?
The two murders are probably gang-related. Someone walking up to someone else to shoot them dead on the street is a somewhat common gang initiation on the east side of San Jose. Anti-gang prevention efforts are probably pushing gang bangers out from that side of town. Every time I see gang bangers hanging out in the back parking lot and gang graffiti on the walls of my apartment complex, I’m quick to report these incidents to the leasing office. The leasing manager will yell at the gang bangers to leave and the graffiti is painted over by the maintenance staff.
The rapes were done by several men under the care of nearby medical clinics for mental illness and drug abuse who wandered on to campus. I don’t think rape will become a reoccurring event like it was at San Jose State University in the 1980s, where school officials later installed the emergency phones with blue lights. I still find the live blogging of the De Anza rape case to be disturbing, especially now that the plaintiff is on the stand.
A more ominous trend in the general neighborhood is people panhandling for change on the street corners and intersections. There used to be only one or two people who were doing it any given time. Lately, as the cratered economy muddles through for ordinary working-class Americans, I’m seeing more and more people panhandling for change. A husband-and-wife tag team at one intersection. A string of military veterans at every freeway entrance. A postal clerk chased away a pregnant woman who stood outside the post office with a sign pleading for help. What do these people do when they’re not panhandling? Are the looking for jobs or committing crimes?
I had the interview at the HP campus and came home the other way to avoid the crime scene at McDonald’s. I’m hoping to get the job there or at another HP location to do desktop support. After two years of unemployment, I’m working part time as a PC disconnect/reconnect technician for a moving company. That won’t last for long. The interviews are coming at a steadier pace than it has in the last two years. That gives me hope that I won’t need to start my career as a professional bank robber. Although there is good money to be made in panhandling (about $45 to $90 per hour at the right intersection), I don’t like standing around and doing nothing.