Thanks to my Twitter and Facebook friends, and co-workers, who have asked me if everything is okay – it is and I’m fine.
Yesterday on my way home from work at about 6:00PM, I was walking through Lownsdale Square Park (SW 3rd/4th / Salmon/Main) just like I do every day. There was a guy on one of the benches next to the walkway who was talking to me, saying “hey can you answer a question for me” as I was walking by. This pretty much happens a few times a week – somebody on a bench or on the sidewalk wants to talk or ask me a question. I try not to be rude but usually say “no I can’t talk” or even just ignore the person, because the few times I have stopped it’s usually a story about something and never sounds real.
So this guy is just talking and finally says, “I just want to know where I can get internet access so I can email my family about something.” This actually sounds true and genuine, so I very reluctantly turn around and start telling the guy where the library is and how he can get online there. He responds first by saying that he’s not allowed in the library because he needs to get some sort of exemption and then deteriorates into a cursing and rambling diatribe about society in general and “people like me” specifically. At this point I realize I’ve made a mistake so I just turn around and start walking away.
So the guy gets up and runs right in front of me and physically blocks my path such that I bump into him. I move a bit horizontally to walk by him and he gets in my way and uses his arms to lightly push me back. I ask him to please get out of my way so I can get by, and he continues his senseless monologue about “people like me.” So I said something like “fine then, I’m calling the f*cking cops” and I’m sure something else that I can’t remember – I turn around and walk quickly taking my phone out of my pocket. At this point he just took off in the opposite direction. I put my phone away, turned around, and started walking home.
What’s weird about this is that I never really felt threatened, even though the guy did physically hit me twice – once when he just stood in my way and then again when he pushed me a bit. I also didn’t “go all New York” on him which I have done before to rude people on the street. I never did call the police, and when I got home I regretted this mostly because I don’t want somebody else to go through the same thing I just did and have it end differently. A day later I have 2 thoughts: 1) I really hope he gets the help he obviously needs and 2) even though I’m socially liberal I’m sick and tired of our city’s policy and policy makers who favor the rights of people on the streets over the rights of small business owners and tax payers/residents/workers/tourists downtown and am going to try to do something about it.