Friday, December 29

Meet You in Miami

Before we started our annual winter pilgrimage to Switzerland, we used to go to Miami, Florida.
Mr Kasamba and I will always be partial to Miami because we met there.
It’s so nice to go on vacation and meet new people.

Sixteen years ago, when Artichoke was not yet two and Asparagus was only a few months old we journeyed south to that place of the turquoise architecture for winter break. Being as we wanted some semblance of a vacation (as much as one can have with two babies in tow) we shlepped along a lovely Bais Yaakov girl who was to help us diaper, burp and feed the little ones. That particular vacation did not have a good start. Our flight was delayed so long that we only arrived at the (now defunct) Kosher hotel at two in the morning. Now here is where things got interesting.

I remember climbing out of the cab, absolutely exhausted, with one arm holding Asparagus and her baby bag and the other arm holding Artichokes little hand. Mr Kasamba was at the back of the car helping the driver to unload our suitcases. Suddenly, two black youths (isn’t that how they always describe them in the paper?) jumped out at us and started grabbing at our luggage. It all happened so fast but at one point when one of the ‘youths’ wrestled with me for Asparagus’s baby bag, we locked eyes. His pupils were so dilated it was like looking into two empty dryer drums.

Our lovely Bais Yaakov maidel reacted in a way that would have made Soro Schneirer proud.
She screamed at the top of her lungs, “Hashem, Hashem” over and over again; except it sounded more like
“ Haaa- SHHHem, Haaa- SHHHem”.
I was so pleased she was there, because there’s nothing like a good G-d fearing girl to help in a crisis.

The criminals, who probably never had a chance and were never given love or education, grabbed what they could and ran into a waiting car.
By the time Mr Kasamba got in the hotel and called the police, they were already in ‘hot pursuit’ of said vehicle. The Fuzz arrived to the hotel within minutes and said that as me and my cohort had gotten a good look at the ‘perps’ we would have to identify them where they were being detained. So they asked us to go in the back seat of the police car. I must say that I was a little disappointed that they didn’t help me to get in by pushing my head in. I thought things were a little weird when we were given a three car escort, but as the Miami Dade police gently explained to me, there are certain areas in Miami that the police do not venture with less than four cars, full of gun toting cops.

We arrived to a scene reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. There were bunches of tall nondescript apartment buildings with what looked like thousands of people, hanging out of every available window and door. They were using language loudly that was not at all complimentary, but I had to give them points for creativity. I was so happy that Miss Bais Yaakov could not understand what the throbbing masses were screaming. We had to leave the safe confines of the police car, (Goodness, those things are squashy) in order to get a good look at the guys who robbed us. I recognised the guy with the black eyes right away, but neither BY girl or I could be 100% sure about the other guy. The cops kept trying to help us make unbiased decision by saying, "Doesn’t he look guilty to you?” and “Maybe try looking closer?”. But, since neither of us was certain, we couldn’t in good faith have him locked away for something he might not have done. Like children giving up ice cream cones, the Law very, very reluctantly, let him go.

Then the police drove BY girl back to the hotel to help Mr Kasamba with the kids and I was driven to the station to give a statement and to get our luggage back. The Miami Dade police station is really nice and not grimy or slimy at all. As far as the people who pass through it, well, you can guess for yourselves.

Apparently, they had caught the driver of the runaway car while the two guys ran away. She was a fourteen year old girl called Shawanda. I kid you not, that was really her name. Anyhoo, because she was a juvvie, they were not allowed to put her in the main holding cell with all the older criminals so they had to keep her on the main floor of the police station. It was surreal because plunked in the center of the room was a round cage where Shawanda was kept. She was a scrappy, skinny black girl with a head full of braids. Sitting on the aluminium folding chair in the center of this barred enclosure, she looked like a scared little child. I even felt sorry for her when the Fuzz teased her relentlessly by saying things like, “Hey Shawanda, why did you want to hurt this nice lady?” (Wow, I don’t recall ever having been called a ‘lady’ before!) and “Shawanda, how did your legs reach the gas pedals?” Nebech.

I then gave a statement and was taken to another room to identify and retrieve my stolen items. Two bags were untouched, but the baby bag, my lovely pink beribboned baby bag was covered in blood. The officer who gave it to me looked sheepish as he tried to wipe away some of the blood with his sleeve. It seems that the good officers of Miami Dade used an age old program of theft deterrent, called ‘Brute Force’. (Remember, this was before Rodney King made every passer-by into a documentary film maker.)
I love cops, they are so manly. When the police drove me home they explained to me that the Miami District Attorney would be contacting me to discuss the charges against my assailant.

Over the next few months I forged a very close relationship with the Miami DA because she had to prosecute for me by proxy as we only stayed in Miami for ten days. She won both the criminal and civil suits, by the end of which we were on first name basis. She called me ‘Kasamba’ and I called her ‘Janet’, short for Janet Reno, before she became the US Attorney General.
Yes, it was she- pre the wacko Wako disaster.

My convicted assailant owes me the neat sum of $3,000, which he’s never paid.
Thank goodness I’m didn’t hold my breath, because I would have been out of it along time ago.
Never mind, at least I widened my social circle and met new people.
Ah, a vacation to remember


At 10:34 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

You manage to give a humorous spin even to such an unpleasant event, that's so great.

I used to love (especially the food) the kosher hotel in Miami, I won several times at bingo (an umbrella once!).
It’s a shame it closed down.

Good thing you didn't go this year, I hear the weather is not that great.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Where have you not been what a busy life.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Sara with NO H said...

This was terrifying! I can't imagine what the babysitter you took along went home to tell her parents. I can imagine it was something like, I'm never going to babysit

You DID say you were gonna do my tag this post, but since this was such a great post that will give me nightmares over most of shabbos, I'm your moichel. Next post...don't forget!

Have a great shabbos!

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Amishav said...

Amazing! You met Janet Reno! You are one well connected gal Kasamba- But the best part was the part about screaming HA-SHEM at your assailants. But you really shouldn't be surprised by the names. I teach Dewanante, and Hennesia, and Javalone. You wonder what the heck these parents are thinking!

At 4:53 PM, Blogger cruisin-mom said...

If that isn't a script for CSI Miami, I don't know what is...How is Janet these days? (I assume your still good buds)

At 1:17 AM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

what an experience!

that is totally like something from tv!

At 3:25 AM, Blogger RaggedyMom said...

That was terrific! You ought to look up Janet and remind her that you knew her way back when.

We were in Miami once, when Ann was little and I was in the throes of morning sickness with Andy. If I close my eyes I can still smell the teriyaki salmon someone at the next table ordered that made me run outside! I have fond memories of the toilets of Miami. Oh, and of the rowdy "Spring Break"ers on our floor.

Aaaah, vacation!

At 5:24 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Why am I guessing it might've been the Saxony? I had an episode in their driveway. Apparently, there'd been some crossed communications when two cabs showed up at 4 a.m.,the time for when we'd arranged a ride to the airport,and proceeded to argue and get physical about who'd gotten there first and who was going to get these passengers.
Boy, you do get yourself good material to write home about, Kasamba.

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

That is a hell of a story.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

miami never sounded so exciting :)

At 9:38 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

It's all how you look at it!

Eouropeans travel alot!

Sara with no H:
It's coming!!!!Hold on!!!

How do they come up with those names?

Of course we are! We meet up in Buckingham Palace every Tuesday to have tea and crumpets witht he Queen!

Truth is stranger than fiction!

LOL! You think?
I still can't look at certain foods that made me heave during my preganancies!

Actually, it was the Carribean hotel!
I dunno -things happen to me!

Yup, it is.

Ha! So true!!!

At 1:46 PM, Blogger MiamiMommy said...

Ok . . . but what happened to your cute diaper bag????

At 4:37 PM, Blogger kasamba said...

Well, I got another one... but never as nice. Aw.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger RR said...

What a story, what a story!! We used to go to MB for Pesach but nothing that exciting ever happened to us! I remember the Caribbean, didn't know it closed.

And Janet Reno! Wa-wa-wee-wah!

Kasamba, that was really one heckuva tale- truth really IS stranger than fiction!

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