So last week, four friends forwarded me a message from Arlington County's Emergency Alert service. The email, in part, read:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Robbery/Homicide Unit is investigating the early morning assault of a woman in the Lyon Village neighborhood of north Arlington. Detectives believe the suspect may have committed several similar assaults over the past two months.Okay. First off, why do so many of my friends subscribe to the Arlington alert service? I've lived in Arlington longer than any other place and have found it to be safe enough to forego bringing an SMS service into it. What constitutes a typical emergency in Arlington, anyway? "Warning: Property values MAY plateau!" "Alert: Beloved Clarendon fixture may NOT have to decamp to Falls Church in the wake of our stupid decision to overdevelop every motherfucking square feet of earth."
The most recent assault occurred today in the 2600 block of Lee Highway at approximately 1:20 a.m. A woman who had recently arrived at her apartment heard a knock at the door. When she opened the door, a man lunged at her with a plastic bag. The woman was able to block the man's attack and he fled on foot. After the woman called 911, numerous police officers set up a perimeter and a short time later a man meeting the general description of the suspect was stopped at a nearby location. The man was interviewed during the morning hours by detectives and subsequently released without being charged. Investigators in the case characterized the man as a "person of interest."
There have been three other incidents along the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor in Arlington between April 16 and May 28 in which women walking alone at night have been attacked from behind by a man with a plastic bag. In each case, the woman was able to fight off the suspect and he fled on foot. The suspect is described as a black male, 20 to 35 years old, 5'10" to 6' tall, with a medium build, light to medium complexion and a clean shaven face.
As far as I can remember, we've had one bona fide, pants-shitting energency here: 9-11. And for the life of me, I cannot get the world to give us any credit for it! Everyone thinks it happened in Washington, DC. I remember reading somewhere that when the Redskins were approached with the possibility of wearing ACFD gear on the sidelines, their response was, "Why the fuck would we want to do that?" Everyone thinks DC's fire department were first on the scene that day and they weren't. Hell, the City Paper even had a story that related how DC's finest made off with an assload of Arlington's gear at the Pentagon site--though, it being the City Paper, I'd take it with a grain of Oxycontin. Wemple probably commissioned a diss of DCFD after they failed to get Stephanie Mencimer out of a tree or something.
And don't get me started on New York City. They don't share shit with nobody. New York City got Bono and U2 and a scroll of names at the Super Bowl. So far as I know, Arlington hasn't yet been treated to so much as Better Than Ezra's drummer showing up at a yard sale to drop off a fax copy of the folks who perished at the Pentagon. America fucking loves that field in Shanksville more than us. "What a brave field," they always say, "NEVER FORGET!"
Anyway, we have this dude, running around with a plastic bag, attacking women, and, I'm sorry, even though this most recent assault happened four blocks from my place, it's hard for me to get worked up about it. How does this guy get a "person of interest?" What's to be interested in? This guy isn't the zodiac killer.
It's easy for me to be blithe about this becaused this guy has not yet successfully completed any of the assaults he's attempted. All of the women he's attacked have fended him off and simply run away. It's easy to see why--he's using a plastic bag! And while a plastic bag may serve ably as a metaphor for life in American Beauty, as a weapon, it leaves a lot to be desired. Let's just start with the fact that the only people who are in danger from plastic bags are the toddlers of particularly inept parents. I guess if Plastic Bag Guy teamed up with Six Inches Of Standing Water in A Bucket Man, we might really have to call in Batman or something.
Anyway, I hope we don't arrest Plastic Bag Guy. As long as he's not really hurting anyone, let's strive to turn his mild annoyance into a source of pleasure for the entire community. Let's let him roam the "Ballston-Rosslyn Corridor" as the area's own inept version of Sasquatch or something. He can shamble out from behind the Cheesecake Mosque, and people can point and laugh. Particularly daring people can agree to be "assaulted" by him for entertainment ("Oh, no! He's got the bag on me! Maybe this time, the plastic won't tear easily!"). He can be one of those "boogeyman" stories we tell particularly easily led children, and maybe those little shits will start behaving in a civilized fashion.