A story

Tried to pick a hitchhiker up on my way home today but he turned me down. He asked, “are you going downtown?”
“Around downtown.” I replied.
He looked around my car, “oh, no.”
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to Maine but I need to go to 7080.”
“7080 and what?”
“I don’t know. A guy I know said go to 80.”
“80th street? I’m going close to 50th”
“No, I think I’ll catch another ride. I need to go to 80.”
“I80? You mean I70? This is I70.”
“Yeah. I’ll try another. Thanks though.”
He closed the door and gassing to drive off, I realized I had killed the engine by knocking out the keys. As I awkwardly (which is one of my most defining characteristics) restarted my car and waited for the cars to go by to get back on the highway exit, I wondered why he turned down my ride. Was it because of my cigarette? My music? Then the thought occurred that he might have been a prostitute and I’m not exactly clientele.
I don’t like assuming stuff of people though.
I reminded myself of just the other night when I played wingman for my friend and ended up drunk power walking two miles home at 1 a.m. because I’m a fucking awesome wingman. My favorite part of that route home is the huge electric city street sign that warns “Proceed with caution. Crime is up, fear everyone,” (not verbatim) as I enter my neighborhood. Stupid.
Anyway, on that walk, I stopped into a gas station and I asked the clerk for cigarettes that homeless people buy. She had purple hair and neat tattoos, a person of a color explosion. We chatted and I asked if she wanted to smoke with me. As we were heading out two women I don’t like to assume were, yet appeared to be, women of the night came in so the clerk had to stay in the shop. I smiled and said, “Hi,” to the ladies and went on.
I thought about the danger sign and how little I appreciate that. The crime was in Lodo before the fancy condos and hip warehouse bars moved in, but now it warrants warnings? I have always refused to live in fear and I feel warnings like that only give validity to fearing instead of loving your fellow man. In my humble and often totally ridiculous opinion, it is shit like that widens the cultural divide between classes.
So, I chain smoked Pall Malls and peed under a bridge about half way home because I couldn’t hold it in, then took a short cut though some signs that said “closed road.” About a block after that, a man drove in the construction zone. He pulled up to me and asked, “Need a ride home?”
“Oh, no. No. No. I’m okay,” I replied.
“How far are you going?”
“Oh, I’m actually really close.”
“Really?”
I realized how strange that must have seemed to him since we were in the midst of an all industrial district. I looked him in the eyes, “Yeah. I’m good. Thanks,” and continued my power walk. I wondered if he was just nice or trying to pick me up as a prostitute.
Now I just wonder if he wondered what was wrong with him that I would refuse a kind gesture, just like I thought with the hitchhiker. Or if he learned a lesson not to assume every woman in the middle of the night is selling something.
After my retrospective ride home today, I thought about hitchhiking myself downtown just to do it because I’ve always wanted to. Didn’t feel like being an assumed prostitute though, so I sat on the porch with the dog instead and wrote this.
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