I've had a few encounters recently that have given me pause, pause to reflect, pause to consider, and quite frankly have jarred me in one way or another. So here goes:
I was driving down York Street picking up tools last weekend, and saw a woman I know walking toward me in her work garb. I stopped and asked her if she wanted a ride, to which she immediately responded, "Yes!" She climbed in, and I asked where to - she said over on New Circle, west past Russell Cave. So off we went. And as we drove, I asked her how she would typically get to work - she said by bus. I asked how long it would have taken her - she said nearly an hour and a half on the weekends (only just over an hour during the week, due to higher frequency of buses). So I clocked it, just for comparison's sake - it took 7 minutes to drive there. I'm not sure what part of that incensed me - that someone could spend that much time to go such a short distance, or that this was the only option, save for biking or walking (both of which are pretty treacherous between here and there), or that that is the exact reason why only a certain population rides the bus - those who do not have any other option. In my friend's case, when I asked why she doesn't drive, she said she had had a seizure decades ago while behind the wheel, and had lost her license as a result. But regardless of what about it struck a chord with me, I felt that these stories need to be heard, and changes need to be made, so that a working-class person doesn't have to spend 3 hours a day on a bus to get to a job that pays minimum wage.
The other encounter was very different in nature - there is new crowd of folks on York Street, people who loiter and generally appear to be up to no good - trying to get into houses, casing houses and cars, dealing and doing drugs. And I knew it, and this was in the back of my mind as I rolled down York again after dropping my friend off. So when I saw the profile of a woman in bright blue satin shorts in the back yard of one of our properties, I had already jumped to conclusions, then mentally berated myself for being alarmist and convinced myself it'd just be someone with nowhere else to pee again. Much to my surprise, it was two young scraggly men and a woman sitting on the back stoop, needles in hand, one holding a lighter under a spoon. I addressed the one I knew the name of, saying, "Kenny Wayne, I asked you before not to be on our property." They basically asked which houses we did not own, to suss out a new shoot-up spot, and when I told them we basically owned the next few in each direction, Kenny Wayne said "Brian, c'mon, let's go to the railroad tracks" and they scooped up their stuff and lit out down Donley. I have not had that kind of direct exposure to heroin before - my previous exposure was basically limited to watching Pulp Fiction in high school. And so, while I knew what it was, I wasn't sure what to do about it. I called and reported it to the police, but I seriously doubt anyone was caught, and even if they were, the last thing we need is more people in jail. And the more I find out, the more I find out it is everywhere. I just talked to a woman last week whose son is back in jail because he violated his parole by doing heroin. It must be a vicious drug, to trade so much for seemingly so little.
As I drove on, after all of that, I waved to an older woman sitting on her front porch who, clearly having witnessed the whole thing, simply yelled out "It's every day like that around here."