© 2012 - William C. Highsmith

The year was 1988 - about ten years before I retired from my job with Bellsouth Telephone Company. I happened to have worked in a dangerous part of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. I was an electronics technician, and my duties called for my presence at various times during the day and/or night. I am a man of short stature and perhaps looked like an easy mark for those looking to relieve me of my money. I was accosted many times as I walked, from where I parked my vehicle, to the door of my workplace.

This time was more serious. At that time of my life I drove a Chevy truck with the big side mirrors. It was around 4:00am in the morning when I was scheduled to be at work. It was an important job at hand and I reported early. As I drove to town on that eventful morning, as usual, I paid attention to the surrounding area as I neared my parking space at the corner of Church and Broad Streets. There were just a few people on the streets at that hour. There was a man dressed as a laborer with a long level over his shoulder. There was the lady that appeared to be a cleaning women heading to a bus stop. I saw a man jogging, even at that hour of the morning.

Then, there was a man that did not fit the profile of the honest people. As I backed into my parking spot, I observed this man approaching from about a half block away. He was coming up Church street on the opposite side of the street from where I was parked. As I watched him, he moved over to my side of the street. I thought to myself - 'I think I will wait for him to go by' - as I would have to pass him on the sidewalk. I was born at night but, it wasn't last night. I decided to just sit there in my truck until he went by. He came on towards me and acted as though he was going beyond my truck. However, as I said, I had the big mirrors and I watched him as he went by my window. He did not go past my truck; but, rather, stopped just beyond where the door would open.

Finally, he got curious because I did not open the door. He came up and put his face against the dark tinted window in order to try to see what I was doing. That was his mistake. I was sitting there with a Walther 380 automatic pistol
in my lap. I brought the pistol straight up to where his nose was on the window. I said, "Back off, nigger!" That was during the days when it wasn't taboo to use the 'N' word. I called him the derogatory name because, at that point, I wanted him to make a wrong move - I was mad! Instead, he started back-pedalling across Church street with his hands in the air. About this time, the guard on the building door where I would be heading came hurrying down the street to meet me - all he had was a large stick.

Old Tom called out to me and asked, "You got problems, Bill?"

"Reckon so, Tom," I answered!

As we stood side by side, the man across the street pulled his gun. He said, "It's gonna be like the OK corral."

However, Tom said to the man, "You better get out of here, nigger".

Well, the would-be robber decided that was a good idea. He didn't know what Tom had but he sure knew what I had and he decided he was definitely out-numbered. He slipped away into the darkness.

I locked up my truck and Tom and I walked the block to the building door. I went to work thinking it was all over.

It wasn't near over.

Everybody that came through the door heard about the incident. Tom told everyone he met - including my boss. Well now, it was considered a terminating offense to bring a firearm into the telephone building. We all knew that. When my boss came in about 7:00am, she had heard all about the excitement. She asked me "Bill, what did you do with the gun?"

"Oh, I just dropped it in the bushes. I'll pick it up on my way home," I answered.

She knew I was lying but she did not want to know anymore. She was a friend. Likely, she was carrying a weapon in her purse!

By William C. Highsmith - September 8, 2012