Based on a true personal experience …
Trying to avoid eye contact with anyone, I chose the side of the street with shadows, but was approached by a woman who decided that I was the cause of all her life’s problems. She tried to delay me with her ranting. I tried to apologize in return, but she was adamant to the point of outright belligerence.
“Excuse me a sec, I have to take this,” I lied as I reached for my phone, pressed and held the hotkey 9, short for a personal-911 type call.
On the second ring, Charlie answered. “What’s up?”
“It’s a number 22.”
“No kidding? For real? Okay, less than five minutes.” Cool. I’d never actually done this before.
My best option was to stand still and listen patiently to the lunatic rave. It wouldn’t last long.
She explained that I had killed her Lord (I’d heard this charge leveled at others before me), was responsible for the polar bears disappearing, and that I was the one who personally invited all the persons of another ethnic category than her own to move into her neighborhood, bringing her property value down. (As though her own personality had nothing to do with that.) She continued to claim that when she lost her job it was because of me rather than her own slovenly work habits; further, it was because of me rather than her own exorbitant spending binge that only two months thereafter she had to declare bankruptcy. I’ll admit she had quite the array of problems.
I sensed relief the moment I heard the chop-chop-chop sound. A small helicopter swooped in and landed in the middle of the street, about fifty feet away from the slack-jawed “woman”. A jumpsuited functionary, some friend of Charlie’s, jumped out and began commanding traffic. (I’d need to see he gets a raise.) Fortunately, there was little of it at the moment. Two other men bailed out behind him, hustled over, and without saying a word to either of us, grabbed the confused shrew by the arms, escorted her rapidly to the helicopter, threw her in, and took off. Problem solved.
In and out time from touchdown to liftoff was about thirty seconds. A new record. (We’d done dry runs for practice.) They left without fanfare, as a couple of people who in the meantime had stumbled on the scene stopped to gape at the chopper. The woman was about to take a bath she would never forget. I remember hoping she knew how to swim really well. Lake Erie is huge and deep.