Saturday, October 15, 2005

Don't walk down dark streets

Things I have been asked in the last 36 hours:

"Does anyone know what rigor mortis looks like?" -- Ralph at work

"Are you the brightest student at Butler?" -- Sen. Bill Bradley

"Did you eat my sandwiches?" -- The brother

"You look nervous, like you're sweating a bit. Are you paranoid? Are you a racist?" -- The guy whose real name is Carl, but whose streetname is Bruno, who confronted me on the sidewalk when I was walking to the Star from the Pacers game. Alone. At night. Down a somewhat dark street. I'm kind of dumb sometimes.

Regarding Carl/Bruno, I was walking on the Delaware Street sidewalk going to the Star after leaving the Pacers game early. I've done it before, but it was daylight. It was pretty dark tonight, and I should've known better. I was a block from the office, when ahead of me, I heard him yell (and I'll put this as it was said), "Hey, I've never met a motherf***er like you before! Have we ever met?" I was a little confused, but I didn't know what else to do, so I stopped, turned on my journalistic self, put out my hand and introduced myself. He was dressed in a wide-brimmed hat and he was wearing headphones and had a pretty nice coat on. In about a thousand words, Carl/Bruno said he liked me because I opened myself up to him when others would run away, even though at one point, he thought I was getting nervous so he asked if I was a racist and then said that was the problem with what happened in Louisiana after Katrina. He kept asking me if I wanted to get to know him and he wanted my phone number, but I talked my way around it. I said I had to go to work, so he let me go after about three or four minutes.

I was a little nervous just because I was in my own little world as I was walking and I'm not used to being stopped on the street, but I wasn't scared of him. Obviously, I didn't want to get shot or beat up, but I doubted that would happen, so I just decided to be a nice guy about it and give him a couple minutes because not many other people will. I can imagine how it would be frustrating to be someone without a home, without a job and without much hope because you're the silent minority. You're there, but nobody wants to admit you're there, so you're swept under the rug. Nobody wants to hear anything from you. That's poverty in America. That's why when society as we know it breaks down, there is chaos. Those who previously never had a voice suddenly have one. The frustration and anger that previously existed beneath the surface rises to the top. That is what happened in New Orleans, and it is what would happen in any major city in America given the situation for it to take place.

In the meantime, I'll try to remember to not walk alone down dark streets.

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