Not Exactly the Same Old Place

For once, on Sunday night Liz was the first one to get the e-mail. “There’s been a shooting at The Same Old Place. Boston.com says that one person was killed and several people were injured.”

The mild euphoria resulting from the Patriots’ dramatic victory over the Colts drained quickly out of the Parent Imperfect. “Who? How? Why???”

“According to Chuck, an argument inside turned into a gunfight, but no one knows what really happens.”

The Same Old Place is just that. It is one of the few eating establishments (as opposed to bars that serve food) that has survived the waves of commercial gentrification that have turned Jamaica Plain center into a trendy shopping area. It was there when the PI moved to the neighborhood in the mid-1970’s, and nothing much has changed. The food is still OK, the workers are still friendly and the owner, Fred, remains as ornery as they come.

Fred apparently wasn’t in his shop when the shooting started and was probably still in shock when the newspaper asked him for a comment. “Nothing like that ever happened before.” Miraculously, although the place was riddled with bullet holes, none of Fred’s employees or any of the other Sunday evening patrons were hit.

It wasn’t until the next evening that the PI found out that three young men were dead and a female passerby was wounded, Three stories that could have gone so many different ways ended in a moment. Police sources immediately suggested that this was a gang-related conflict, but no one could know that quickly what really happened. With his mouth open to inhale his breakfast quesadilla, Vince paused at the Metro section on his way to the comics.  Attracted by the headline, “Man held after 4 shot in pizzeria,” he carefully read the entire article about the pizza place he passes every day on his way to school and, again, on his way back home. The article didn’t mention any fatalities.

Waiting for some deep reaction, all the PI got was, “That’s crazy. They even shot a lady that was walking by on the street.” And then he was on to the comics.

“So what do you think about all these people getting shot in a place we go all the time?”

“I said…it’s crazy. What do you think about it?”

The PI would up for a long one about “the two Jamaica Plains” and “no jobs” and “the homicide rate among young African-American men,” but he could see that Vince was already onto the the next thing.

“It means that no matter where you are you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

As if to comment on the profundity of his father’s comment, Vince let go a massive yawn (it was, after all, 6:15AM. The PI pulled himself off the stool and headed back to Vince’s turkey sandwich for lunch.

To no one but the cat, he said, “Are we really so used to living in the middle of all this that four people get shot down the street and we barely pay attention?”

That night, the PI took Vince to soccer practice just before 7:30PM, almost exactly 24 hours after the shootings. As they approached the Same Old Place, the PI noticed that the sign was turned off.

“Wow…he’s closed. He never closes.”

But when they got to the store, they saw that someone had just forgotten to turn on the sign. The place was open and quite busy.

After remarking that they had replaced the front window that had been shattered by bullets, Vince had the explanation for the decision to not miss a beat. “He probably knows he’s going to get more business now.”

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Not Exactly the Same Old Place

  1. Chris

    My husband was at JP Licks when the shooting happened. We are distraught with this recent violence in such a seemingly safe place. I am outraged that a few people with no regard for human life have made me this scared in my own home. And I feel unprepared for how to make a difference. I guess we’ll go to the discussion tonight (Tuesday, November 23, 6-8pm, at the First Church Unitarian Universalist in Jamaica Plain), and the vigil tomorrow same time same place.

  2. Megan

    So my questions are two fold: (1) What does one do? Hoping there may be some answers floating around that I can latch on to, as I’m just mystified. (2) How do we impart enough wisdom in our children to know when they need to be careful/wary/afraid and when they should be open/non-judgmental/free? And can they be both at the same time? A lot to mull over. Another lesson to figure out.

  3. Thanks, Megan. The PI is going to have to “cipher” on that one for a while. Maybe others have answers.

  4. Pearl

    from someone else….

    My children were born and mostly raised just a few blocks from that shooting.
    I am in shock.
    The harvest of violence is too abundant this year. I see it in the faces of my students at Roxbury Community College. One young man, just a little older than my teenage son, told me yesterday he might be “locked up” after a hearing on Dec. 15. I saw him with tears in his eyes a couple of times during class. Another young man came to my office for a hug the day he heard a guy he grew up with had been executed two doors down from his home. Two of the victims of the Mattapan massacre were either ex- or prospective RCC students. The boy who was beaten by police this Fall at RCC was the nephew of one of our secretaries and a frequent visitor to campus. Another boy shot earlier in the year had signed up to study at RCC and was the grandson of a staff member.
    You would think that our entire RCC community would be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome at this point, and would be seen at our counseling center, right? But we don’t have a counseling center.
    Sue

    • Thanks, Sue. I don’t know if I’m just thinking about it more because I have a teenage son, but this season is also having a big effect on me. I might feel better if I had some idea of something that I/we could do about it. I used to think that I had those answers, but those days are long gone.

  5. sad and cranky

    …and can someone investigate a possible link between the increase in violence in Boston communities and the scandal at the Probation department? I think people who may have been helped by POs who were qualified and cared were certainly served poorly, if at all, by the political appointees O’Brien and his rats put in place….

    • Thanks, cranky. I actually hadn’t thought of the probation department connection. Might it make a difference to have a professional Probation Department with people trained to do that sort of work? D’ya think?

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