My morning was interesting. I finally made it to the food pantry in my neighborhood on the day it was supposed to be open (it is advertized as being open on Friday mornings when in fact, it is open Thursday mornings — something that I only became aware of last Friday after one month of repeatedly finding them closed, followed by careful questioning of several people regarding this).
So I arrived this morning half an hour early, as I was advised to do last week, only to find a note written on a paper towel in Spanish that was taped to the wall, stating that there is no food today.
Well, great. Just great.
As I stood there sweating profusely (and oh, so attractively) in the surprisingly hot morning sun, deciphering the spidery handwriting, a man walked up and began talking to me. He wanted to know my name.
“So do you often introduce yourself to girls while they are waiting for the food bank to open?” I laughingly asked him, thinking that he also was waiting for food.
So I didn’t see any harm in telling him. Stupid me, I know. He then told me his name is Tony. I looked closely at Tony’s face and noticed that several of his teeth were broken off near the gumline. That’s gotta hurt, I thought.
As I went to leave, Tony’s intentions became clear: he is a drug dealer who is looking for new customers — oh, and since I am female, he also is happy to act as my pimp. Wow, a real job that pays good money with all the fringe benefits I could ever want! In fact, this is a job that is nothing but fringe benefits — and for a wage, too! What more could I possibly want? Gee, thanks, Tony! Where have you been these past four years while I’ve been struggling just to stay alive and off the streets?
“No,” I responded. “No, thanks. I am not interested.” Despite the fact that I was freaking out, I tried to maintain a calm demeanor, although I did leave immediately.
Of course, Tony obviously believed that “no” is the new “yes” so he followed me, repeating his generous offer of free drugs and lots of sex and money. I ignored him and continued walking as fast as I could. Finally, after following me for a block, he fell silent. Whew.
I walked past the fruit stands and other sidewalk vendors that were just opening and finally arrived at my building. But as I unlocked the security door to my building, I was shocked to find that Tony had followed me! And of course, my cell phone battery had died, so I couldn’t call the police, as I should have done right then and there.
Fortunately, Tony didn’t follow me inside my building, although he did repeat his generous job offer several times — even shouting it, so his voice eched down the hallways of my building, alerting all my neighbors to my good news. In retrospect, I am pleased to remind myself that almost none of them know English very well.
After making sure Tony did not follow me inside, I made it to my apartment, heart pounding, and hid for awhile behind a door that had been secured with a variety of chains, locks and deadbolts while I screwed up the courage to grab my laptop and go to my coffee shop, and wifi.
I guess I am anti-American to not want to participate in good old-fashioned American entrepreneurism.