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.


Candace said...

I agree - the big city during the day isn't threatening because there are ALWAYS people around. I felt safer in LA than I do in KS sometimes because of that. For me, as long as the conversation is brief and general, I'm fine. I feel uncomfortable if the stranger is asking personal questions like about my age, where I work, or if I'm single :) People always feel more free to talk to you if you're sitting alone & some people just don't recognize non-verbal cues. I feel like limited convos are ok, but I personally like to keep it short and generic -- kind of like how you would chat with a customer if you were a cashier. Your post makes me miss living in the big city & miss spending lunches outside. I loved it!

Thad Bergmeier said...

The Way of the Master....

Shanle's said...

I would have probably gotten up and walked away, too. The alcohol would have scared me away... I'm just a paranoid person, in general. There's a time and a place to minister to people... Say, on an airplane?! :) Maybe not a bench park?! :)