I was walking home from work and had just crossed Delmar when a young man at the corner asked me for change. He was wearing a red t-shirt, and I automatically assumed it was the Cardinals, but wrong city and wrong sport (it said Buccaneers). He called me ma’am and asked if I had extra change for the bus. I said sorry, no, and he said, Thanks, and that was it.
When I told R about it, I pointed out the guy wasn’t even by a bus stop; the MetroLink and bus station were about a block away and had a lot more people there. I also said the guy was carrying a large fountain drink cup so if he had had money for that, he should have had money for the bus–or prioritized the bus money first. Even if he used a bank/credit card, he could get cash out somewhere. Then I said, Maybe he found the empty container in the trash and filled it with water. R said (again), That’s a nice story.
Wednesdays are currently later nights for me, which means that Thursdays are later mornings. So it was close to 8:30 a.m. when I headed out on foot to work listening to my iPod (All Songs Considered – new Vampire Weekend album), which is tucked into the front pocket of my sturdy travel bag. A random man on a bicycle (on the sidewalk) pedals up alongside me and offers the unsolicited advice that I should not listen to headphones while walking with a purse because someone’ll come up and grab my purse and I won’t hear anything. Don’t walk like you’re in your own city.
Now I wonder if he meant city like world, as though I’m not aware of what’s going on around me, which is a pretty nice metaphor, but at the moment I took it to mean, “You’re not from around here and you don’t know how unsafe it can be.”
Ignoring the fact that my apartment was broken into 5 years ago and my car was broken into about 2 weeks ago, I like to think of myself as pretty savvy. I’m not walking down the street swinging my purse in the air (note: it wasn’t a purse–it’s a Timbuktu travel bag crossed over my shoulder; just try to get that off me). I feel like I can reasonably judge my surroundings. I lived in downtown Louisville for 3 years or so, and while it’s not a hotbed of criminal activity, there were certainly some unsavory characters, and I regularly walked around downtown and from downtown to my job.
Here, I’ve already stopped listening to my headphones on my way home once I get past the Metrolink station and in the morning I don’t put them on until I get to the station because that last/first stretch is quiet and I saw a “near incident” the other week. But if I’m going to get mugged at 8:30 in the morning along the Loop while walking to work, then I don’t want to be in this city anyway.
Also, do not pedal up alongside a woman walking by herself (and she can hear you because the music isn’t that loud) and offer unsolicited advice about safety.
I haven’t been riding the bus much lately. The weather has either been nice enough for me to walk or really bad and I’ve gotten a ride to work (guilty confession) from R. I’ve only biked once or twice, in part because my bike is stored in the basement and you have to carry it up the stairs to get it outside. Even the basement door is halfway up the stairs. And that’s awkward and not a fun thing to think about when you’re getting ready to leave the house. We’ve been looking for a small shed or outdoor bike storage unit to use in the yard.
Today is Bike to Work Day. R biked. I walked. It’s also commencement day on campus, so I’m not sure how far I would have it made it through campus with my bike anyway. But I also figure the sentiment is “Don’t Drive” not “Only Use Your Bike.” But I also didn’t try to get the free breakfast outside the bike shop I passed.