So while I've been quite transparent all these years, I know that I'm living my life as a target. Unafraid and daring, I have been pursuing my craft consistently, positioned inside of Starbucks such as many entrepreneurs do day to day, all around the world. Some self-analysis tells me that I have gone above and beyond what most other entrepreneurs have done in such a position. To the point of obsession, I have more or less branded myself inside the belly of this Green Giant.
Becoming a staple, disciplined in my routine, and being such a giver, has made me something of the Mayor of Starbucks. But if you go to most any Starbucks you will find there is a Mayor in just about each one.
They are the social butterflies, the top-level entrepreneurs, as well as the entry-level hucksters in that particular city or town. The hucksters will either fit in and grow to be substantial, or they'll disappear, back into the 9-5 workforce, or worse, living in mom's basement or attack. Still, everyone has value, everyone connecting the dots in their lives, whether its with the community's heavyweights in business, politics, religion and other forms of leadership, or just a love connection... it aloes down in Starbucks. We dine out and go to baseball games and experience many off-site activities together. We know all the beautiful men & women, all the married couples, and all the children. We know everyone on a first name basis and our cell phones are populated with numbers and text messages and photos from the community that we serve and resource within. We know a lot of the handicaps, those who share intense stories of having AIDS, Alzheimers, MS, all those who have experienced loss, or who are challenged with their economics and/or their career. But, unlike many others I am the one with the global fame and the local fame. On the global side, its not as if I'm an a-list movie star or a rapper with a platinum plaque on the wall/but I've certainly achieved the highest level you can for an author, whether its winning an award, having an award named after me, being profiled on the big national broadcast news shows, or aligning my brand with the worlds biggest rapper... I've done it all.
On the local side, I'm the one who produced community shows, jazz shows and comedy shows inside of Starbucks. I'm the one who advocated clothing and food drives inside of Starbucks. The one who advocated fundraisers inside of Starbucks. The one who chased thieves who snatched and ran with a cell phone, or who stole a purse, on separate occasions inside of Starbucks. I'm the one who is savvy enough or dare I say bold enough to identify the pedophile inside of Starbucks. So, to an extent I guess I was the fucking police inside of Starbucks. Meanwhile, I'm the one who helps people when they can't start their car outside of Starbucks. I'm the one who helps the elderly lady who falls outside of Starbucks. I'm the one who helps the wheelchair bound customers maneuver inside of Starbucks. I'm the one who helps people find a seat or an Internet signal inside of Starbucks.
"Relentless can you help us get Starbucks into the Chamber of Commerce?"
"Relentless, can you help us raise money for our health center at Starbucks?"
"Can we raise money for our battered women's shelter at Starbucks?"
"What a tragic fire that was, Relentless. What can we do to help that family here at Starbucks?"
"Relentless I am a singer, I am comedian... can you put me on stage at Starbucks?"
"Relentless do you have a cord so I can charge my cell phone? My laptop? As a matter of fact can you fix my laptop? Do you have anything for my headache outside in your RV? Can I use your computer? Can I use your cell phone? Do you have a pen? Do you know what time it is? Can I borrow your flyswatter? Can you please help me with this, that or the other? Oh, and can you convert this to a PDF file for me? Can you create this flyer for me so that I have it in time for a presentation for the region's visit?"
All of that taking place inside of Starbucks in Conyers Georgia over the past seven years. So intense was my involvement at Starbucks that the local paper did a story on me and put it on the front cover on Christmas Day 2010. And yet this Starbucks has been in the community for some 13 years and they've never been profiled on the front cover of the local newspaper. I should be the friggin Starbucks Publicity & Promotions Manager, if you really look at the work I put in. So intense was my involvement at this coffee shop that the Starbucks Corporation made me a vendor and gave me checks... I have the Starbucks management to thank for that, since that is so "unheard of" and nearly impossible, with every business imaginable trying to be a vendor under contract with this multibillion-dollar corporation. And yet this is the same manager that gets complaints about my presence being so consistent, about my computer being so big, and about my RV being so recognizable out in that same 1st-come-1st-served parking space. Where hundreds of multimillion dollar corporations lobby for positioning inside of Starbucks as vendors, I was the "little guy" with the big heart and the unique services who (because of his obsession?) slipped through the cracks so that I was now being paid for doing something he loved... Self-employed and yet doing community service work (you guessed it) inside of Starbucks.
Here I am, Relentless: a ball of energy that moves and creates movemen wherever I go, more fine tuned nowadays than merely random. I was doing all of this as a popular author with a mysterious pen, and unbridled voice, and an unorthodox presence.
Folks, who I am and what I do is not like being a popular rapper or a ballplayer. Those two professions come with much more notoriety and exposure (by default) as much as they call for the brawn and/pretense or imaginary strength. Meanwhile you don't need to be tough to be a great writer. You might need to be tough to be a great salesman, but for me writing comes easy. For me the humble jacket is a better fit/Way more comfortable. But just like everything else in my life where people assume that I am a mile long, I choose to take life step by step. And that's my big secret, consistent steps one after the other. As such, I don't have to keep the appearance of fearless or bold and brazen. I can be that every day all day in my writing. Much less fuss or moss in that equation. But I bet you don't know the other side of the scoring, and that I am both a target for positive as well as negative energies. On the negative side, there is the envy and jealousy and, there is the curiosity and the straight up audacity of some others who want to know why I'm there in Starbucks every day. They want to know who I am and how i'm able to do this. They even want to know WHAT I'm doing here every day. And if their curiosity is not answered on the surface, they do digging all their own. They go so far as to ask others about me. They go so far as to assume things about me. They have gone so far as to call and write letters and complain to the Starbucks Corporation about me. They started by calling the police on me when I first came here some seven years ago. If you follow my Facebook timeline you seen pictures of police squad cars and you have read my dissertations about these activities. And yet I'm doing nothing less and nothing more than what Starbucks permits inside of their dynasty. I'm doing nothing less than being the most resourceful that I can be inside the belly of this green beast. I take the love and the hate with a grain of salt and hope for brighter days. I know that people will be human and curious and hateful and or loving, and I know this because I have been "recording" it all for a long time. You may see my photos on Facebook. You may see my videos on YouTube. You may see my e-books and e-zines shared all over the web. When you Google "iMac and Starbucks" you see that people have been snapping pictures of me and or at least talking about me for many years. Some are negative and others are positive; but that all comes with the game of fame.
I'm very clear about my level of fame and my attraction, as clear as I am about the energy that I attract and the people who come into my circle. I know who to attach to as well as who to stay the hell away from. I can assess when a person is tick tick boom, as much as I can tell if they have a loving heart and a purpose in life. I can tell if you are wayward and troublesome, as much as I can tell if you are focused and not to be toyed with. My level of awareness and my ability to assess people on so many levels is what made me who I am, the well-known/well-paid writer that I am, just as that skill has kept me safe and out of harms way for all these years. That was all working until a few months back.
As I said, there is the good and the bad that I have attracted. The jealousy and the envy swarms around me much like human beings looking at the goldfish in the fishbowl. Some are predators who I avoid and others are harmless and helpless. One of these harmless beings has been harassing me for some 10 months there at Starbucks in Conyers. The first time he addressed to me, he expressed that he had a problem calling me by my pen name "Relentless."
"That's not your real name, DeWitt" he said to me. So I suppose he was wanting to make it clear that he had done his research about me. Is this the writers version of "the angry rapper?" Or is this the 2015 version of "Misery" beginning to play itself out in Conyers Georgia?
Newsflash, dopeydilldot: you can Google me or visit my website to see that there is no smoke and mirrors here. Newsflash to the nonreaders of the world who like to taste and go and who live on soundbites: my birth name is DeWitt Gilmore. But this is NOT news. Those facts have been noted in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, ABC World News, NPR radio and so many other substantial media sources that the world turns to for resources and information. So DUHHHH BRUH, this is not Breaking News. If you've got at least one tool in your tool shed, with very little research you can see my truth. As I said earlier I am transparent, with nothing to hide. But on the other hand you wouldn't have a problem calling Ice-T or Eminem by their "performance names." Hmmm
ANYHOW, this dude, 48 year old Tracy Alexander. (No, not Caitlyn, Tracy) is a reminder of Roger from What's Happening. He's a nerdish, lightweight and harmless coffee drinker who had been frequenting this Starbucks for about 10 months, and whose eyes wander the entire time he's in the shop. He weighs close to 110 pounds (with Winter clothes); something frightening to look at when you consider his toothpicks-for-legs-and-arms. When you look at him you wonder if he's anorexic or malnourished. Tracy will strike up the simplest conversations with you just to pick your brain, to create rapport, and still there is me that he began to pick at. I can't figure it; maybe he wanted to compete for Mayor and felt that I was his competition; I was his competition. But remember, others picking at me feels normal. Its business as usual for me, something that has been taking place for a long time, way before my engagement at the coffee house. Two other occasions brought Tracy in front of me. When he said he didn't want to call me "REE-LENT-LESS," I told him "brother you don't have to call me anything. In fact i'd rather you not say anything to me at all; that would be my preference because I don't really like your energy." He agreed with me, as if he was doing me a favor. But then less than a week later he approached me and apologized for his attitude. We shook hands and I shook my head as he walked away.
That ugliness in Tracy emerged again months later and I ignored it. Finally a few months back (in May 2015) this dude circled passed me where I was sitting and sneered "Slim Shady." No this wasn't my rap nickname, this was Tracy trying to get a rise out of me. And he did. The way he sneered at me and the way his voice was directed I felt threatened. I got up from my seat and approached him and asked him "Bro do not say anything to me when you pass me. You really don't know what to say out of your mouth." Tracy's response was silent. He pulled his four-finger across his lips as if to say he was zipping them. He did this in such an animated way as if to say I don't want no trouble. I can't tell you how much I agreed with that, however this was not the end of our communication. When I walked away I heard him mumbling aloud and pounding at his laptop. I wondered: "damn, do I have to worry about my life in Starbucks?"
In hindsight, this is the point when I should have approach to management and had them approach the customer. This has happened in the past. I have had my stalkers, my bugaboos, and the nuisance here and there. You figure me having spent seven years in the same place, on a daily basis, there would be some fans and some foes. That's just what it is.
Two hours past and Tracy gathered his things to leave the shop.
For a more secluded conversation (and only that) I walked outside behind him and addressed him about his actions. I asked him why he was still harassing me after we so-to-speak addressed this some 10 months earlier. "I thought we squashed this?" I said to him. "I thought we did too," he said wagging his head with an attitude. "But you shady!" He said to me. I wondered what that had to do with him sneering at me in Starbucks. Why couldn't he mind his business just like I mind my own every day? "Bro I don't know what's wrong with you but you need to LEAVE ME ALONE" and I pointed at him and I was very direct about it. Soon thereafter this dude threw down his headphones and his knapsack and he pushed his birdcage chest up against mine. He got loud/at the top of his lungs
"WHATCHU GONNA DO, REE-LENT-LESSSSS! THATS NOT EVEN YOUR NAME!"
Then and there I'm telling myself this guy is a straight cuckoo bird, no different than the woman who stalked me from a Florida prison only to show up with a cameraman at my Atlanta mansion party. No different than the chic who shows up from California in fuck-me pumps, crying out "Relentless I'm heeeere!" in the center of Starbucks a few years back. But at the same time I'm concerned about my well-being because I'm wide open, hands to my side and him being aggressive up against my chest, more or less compelling me to react. There was a point when we were on the grass outside of Starbucks, plenty of witnesses, and in a face-to-face a moment when I was concerned about being hit. So I watched his hands and feet.
When he was close enough I assessed the situation/how it intensified, identified strike points on his body, and had to make the decision whether to hit him or not. In my mind this guy was no danger to me but you cannot underestimate folks. Malnourished, or not.
More concerned about my safety, I grabbed his wrists and said "brother you do not want to do this." All the while he is escalating with his volume and his cursing and the next thing I know he ripped one of his wrists from my grip and swung on me. I forecasted that and ducked the swing, immediately I leveraged the commitment of his bodyweight and I flipped him to the ground and immediately put him in a headlock. "Now why you want to go and swing on me??"
But Tracy wasn't about answering my question, instead he was already screaming for help.
"HELP!!!! HELP!!!! HELP!!"
Far as I know, I was helping him by subduing him. This guy was a threat to his own well-being, with me as his challenge. He wouldn't want the "old me" to show up.
A Starbucks customer. Mark ran over to where I had helpless-Tracy held tight/pinned to the ground, his glasses lopsided on his face.
"He swung on me" I panted. The customer's name is Mark Flowers. Known him for a few years and he saw my sincerity/also recognized that I was not fighting, but subduing this dude. He tapped Tracy on the shoulder and said "he'll let you up, but if you swing on him we're both going to be fighting you." It was really that simple, calm and not a war going on. Just one fool (me) who decided to NOT BE AFRAID of some cat who decides he wants to encourage me at the place I called home.
Yes, CALLED home. Here's the rest of the story:
I slowly let go of Tracy, police were already on their way and this morning, in about a half hour I'm due in court to respond to a "disturbing the peace" citation.
Over 12 years of good behavior, no police reports or fights or any kind of criminal activity; no "boy shit" and no involvement in a system that I was once so familiar with, and now this coward-ass instigator (The angry rapper? The stalker from Hell?) drags me into the court room today for the first time in decades.
I have since switched up my practices. I've insulated myself even more and I stay movin my ass. I've decided that I should not be as predictable and as super-transparent as I once was, always to be found in one particular place at any given time. I also found more opportunity by moving around, since all of my relationships have lent themselves to a successful magazine and related Internet podcasts. I have learned to enjoy the mystique that a writer is supposed to have and I don't mind staying in that lane. I'm comfortable being the introvert and coming out when necessary. I'm confident about my relationships and my interactions in the community. And I do much better work alone.
Off to the courthouse for this nonsense, i'll leave without breakfast and maintain my appetite. #Hungry
On July 17, 2015 Tracy Alexander and I were standing before Judge Massey in the packed City of Conyers court room. There were two witnesses on the day of the incident. One witness stood by me; shorter Asian fellow who I never spoke to in my life. Standing near Tracy Alexander was my nemesis, a woman who wants introduced herself to me and engaged in a conversation that inevitably turned into me doing business with her twisted father. Like father like daughter, (I say), since I now had to address not only stalker Tracy Alexander but also (because the business relationship with her father did not go well at all) I had a woman with her own axe to grind, ready to give any old testimony to try and plant me. Sharise Cunningham is the Popeyed, pie-faced biker-chic, a loner who I knew to frequent Starbucks for some five or six years/comes all the way from Lithonia to get her coffee. And now, since the foiled relationship with her dad four or five years back was one where I had to "fire the client," I assessed that this was her get-back. And right there on the court room floor is exactly what I imagined. Judge Massey specifically asked everyone to raise their hand and to take an oath to "tell the truth." The judge then asked the witnesses if they knew either of the defendants, myself or Tracy Alexander. Both witnesses said "no," that they did not know either of us. It was at that point, when Sharece purgered herself/lied in court, that I knew I would be taking an L. The witnesses were signaled to speak/to share what they saw. The witness who spoke on my behalf said that I was not the aggressor and that Tracy Alexander was the aggressor. Sharise Cunningham, however had a different angle on the events. She went on about how she saw me charging after Tracy Alexander and how I escalated things and that I was aggressive and that I swung on him. Essentially, she lied and created a phony picture that (for me) dug deep into her own twisted father/daughter allegiance. To further detail how she had it out for me, Cunningham said "and you did a lousy job" relating to the work I did for her father.
Right there in Conyers city court the ratchet debate ensued, where Tracy Alexander appeared frail, in slippers and did his best to exhibit his scrawny frame for all to see. No suit and tie, no respect for the court, just playing the role. He even mentioned to the judge that he was a cancer survivor. He went on to talk about "the takedown," and how on the ground/while I had him in a headlock he could feel my penis and testicles on his leg. Tracy Alexander even went so far as to threaten me in front of the judge to say that "anything could've happened to you; you need to be careful how you approach people" LOL, "yes especially people like you" I thought to myself. "Yes, and I'm so scared about what you might do to me..." And I wondered how that worked for him the first time around while being flipped to the ground or while in a headlock.
And so these are the voyages of my RELENTLESS journey, how I am the target of some and how I am the troubadour for others. I am a problem for some, while I am productive and purposeful for others.
And so after seven years I have one police report that shows me disturbing the peace. Thank God it was not worse. Thank God I did not strike this man for he may not have survived. And my legacy and my life's work wouldn't have survived the outcome.
epilogue: Stardate August 2015, these are the voyages of the RELENTLESS enterprise... And so I ask myself, what would Jesus do. That's a question I should've asked long ago when Tracy Alexander continue to approach me. Because at the end of the day I need to remind myself that I am some sort of celebrity to these folks and they feel they can do or say anything to me. It's been proven over and over again through the years, and it isonly I with the choice to surrender to their bullshit or to ignore it and move on with my life as previously scheduled.naturally all bets are off if you decide to get physical with me, but that doesn't mean that I should put myself in a position where you can be physical with me. And so I have indeed learned my lesson about the worst stalker can be, no matter if it's a public establishment or not. I just need to further practice asking myself in the face of my foes, life's challenges and all the misery I see, What would Jesus think?
In light of all the confrontations that are possible, I must ask myself What would Jesus say? And where it relates to action or in action, I must ask myself What would Jesus do? No, Jesus is not the be-all to end all in every equation, but he's a damned good example. #lesson