Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lunch in Downtown St. Louis

It has been beautiful outside during my lunch break. Sometimes I go for walk in the nearby parks. Other days, I find a place in the sun to sit and read. Today was a reading day.

So, I go to a picnic bench close to my office and get settled with my book and my lunch. Not 3 minutes later a man sits down at the bench next to mine.

How are you doing today? He asks. Initially I am a bit annoyed by the interruption, but answer that I am just fine and return to my reading.

My neighbor then takes out a large bottle of liquor and takes a few noisy gulps. Mind you, it is 11:34 am. The alcohol wafts my direction and I wonder if I should get up a find a new spot. But I stay.

These scratch tickets just ain't never win for me no more. I haven't won anything in 10 years. I keep reading without comment. More gulps of the amber liquid.

When he lit up a cigarette, I knew I wouldn't be able to sit there and enjoy my reading while inhaling smoke, so I finally got up and found a spot in the park for the remainder of my lunch.

Here is my question: should you engage in conversation with questionable strangers, or should you be almost a little rude by ignoring them or walking away? I can go either way on this question and am interested in hearing your thoughts since I ride the train and spend a lot of time in downtown St. Louis.

I know people get nervous about St. Louis and the crime and I wouldn't be comfortable alone downtown at night, but during the day it is very lively and I never feel uneasy. There is live music, food trucks, people out walking and eating their lunches. I am cautious about where I go and try to be mindful of my surroundings, but it feels as comfortable to me as walking around downtown Lincoln, NE.