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Gangsters: Age 40

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

While on leave from military training in southern Texas a few of my friends and I, all officers in the Medical Corps, took the transit system into town for some well-earned recreation. All was good until it was time to go back to the base.

The nearest bus stop was a hub for many different routes and there were probably fifteen or twenty people waiting for their bus. It was on a bridge that spanned a small river flowing beneath it.

We were chit chatting at the bus stop when we noticed a gang of about 30 guys rounding the corner walking in our direction, slowly, but deliberately, gaining confidence as people began to move out of their way. Most of them were rough looking high school boys sending out a menacing vibe.

"This doesn't look good guys," I said. My fellow trainees and I were in a military mindset and instantly became a unit, a team that quickly developed a plan. One of my friends, a psychologist who understood gangs said, "What should we do? We don't fit in here and they'll target us if they are looking for trouble." Another officer said, "Maybe we should spread out." Time was running out. The gangsters were getting closer and we had to act.

I said, "If we stay together, we could easily be overcome." We decided to split up but keep within a reasonable distance in case any one of us needed help. By splitting up, we'd become four targets instead of one. Three of us stayed on one side of the street and one went to the other side. With all of us in position, we just had to wait.

Our tactic worked, and the gang spread out. One of the gangsters came and stood right next to me, almost touching my shoulder. I was leaning against the bridge railing and was going to throw the guy into the river if he tried anything. He just stood there. The tension grew as another gangbanger paced in front of us, about six feet away, glaring at me the entire time, lifting his arm and pointing at me as he walked. All my senses were on high alert, ready for battle. Having my team nearby gave me courage.

Then an older gangster, the leader, came over, stood nose to nose to the guy next to me, and asked, "Why aren't you doing what I told you to do?" His crony said, "I don't want to." The older guy said, "Do it man!" He said, "No, I don't want to do it." I was very pleased that the guy had enough courage to stand up to the gang leader.

As the drama was unfolding, one of our group crossed the street, found a security guard, and asked her to call the police. Just in time, three mounted police rounded the corner of the block. With a word from the leader, the gang dispersed.

When it was all over, my team rallied around me, excited that a battle was averted.

~ Andrew Laufer

Papa Laufer’s Stories: Positive Reflections of Life in America is available on Amazon. 




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