Two Saturdays ago, a woman left her wallet on the bar at the Beacon while I was working. As soon as I noticed, I set it next to the cash register for safekeeping. Twenty minutes later she came rushing back in and asked desperately, “Did I leave my wallet here?”
I told her that she had and went off to get it. She shouted after me that she was going to give me my biggest tip of the night. Handing it back to her, I said that wasn’t necessary and went to fill another customer’s glass. She followed me to the taps and held out a $20 bill. “Here,” she said, “I insist.” She thanked me again, I thanked her, and she left. I put the money in my tip jar, served the customer at the end of the bar and walked back to where my husband and another customer were sitting to continue the conversation we’d been having.
“That’s how these things are supposed to go,” I told them. “I did a good deed. I didn’t expect any sort of reward for it, but I got one anyway. Pleasant surprise and no one got shot.”
We’d been discussing the shooting that occurred a few hours earlier just down the street from my house. You probably know the details by now. One man found another man’s cellphone and offered to meet him at the 7-Eleven on the corner of Desplaines and Roosevelt to give it back. However, when they met up, the phone-finder insisted that the phone owner give him $100. The phone owner refused so the phone-finder pulled out a revolver and shot him in the neck.
When I moved here eight years ago, the proximity of that 7-Eleven was a big perk. It’s perfect for mid-day Slurpee cravings, late-night snacks, and lottery ticket purchases anytime the Mega Millions jackpot skyrockets. Sometimes bad things happen there, and this was by far the worst, but I don’t think my neighborhood is any less safe than I did before. You know why?
Because I’ve never felt very safe anywhere in America due to our lack of gun control.
Even though this is technically an opinion column, I’ve rarely gotten political and mostly used this as a space to celebrate our town (and I will pause here to thank the Forest Park PD for their hard work on this case). But I have an opinion here and it’s a controversial one: we’ve allowed our right to bear arms to interfere with the safety of innocent people for too long.
Since we’re no longer battling the British or living in the Wild West, I personally don’t see why the average American needs anything other than a hunting rifle, which is a lot harder to conceal when attempting to bilk money out of someone in a 7-Eleven parking lot. I know that’s taking it a lot further than most are willing to go, but every time I hear about a drive-by shooting or a massacre at a school – things that don’t even always make the front page anymore – I wonder when we as a nation are going to realize that stricter legislation is in order.
I don’t mean to oversimplify a complex issue, but for me it comes down to this: There are too many morons out there who think they should be rewarded for simply acting like a respectable human being, and if they aren’t rewarded, it’s OK to shoot someone. Unfortunately we can’t stop them from frequenting our 7-Elevens. Let’s make it harder for them to get guns.
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.