Blog Your Blessings: The Friendly 'Hood
Saturday afternoon, I saw four cops talking with a young man in a hoodie and baggie jeans as I was making my way across Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut. After a few minutes, the cop on the bike cycled off and the young man was let go. He smiled and nodded to the cops and continued his walk as he put a liter bottle of cola into the cargo pocket on his tan jeans. "Where'd he go?" one cop asked the other as they looked around for the bicycling cop, who was well and away. Nothing to do for the other three but...go somewhere else.
Before I knew it, I was in step with the young man and about 10 paces behind him--not quick enough to overtake him without power walking but close enough to wish I weren't quite so close. He turned around. "I'm not following you, but I do seem to be going your way," I said and smiled.
"I wasn't worried about you. I was just looking behind me. I am more worried about the police who stop me for nothing."
He wore a hoodie. He had dark skin. His pants sagged. No profiling here--because all criminals commit crimes walking alone in empty parks and sipping cola in the middle of sunny spring days.
"Well, they have to keep Hartford safe from the harmless people," I said. He had an accent; I asked him where he was from.
"I am from the Dominican Republic--are you going through the tunnel?" We had been making our way toward the tunnel under the tracks at Union Station. "I will walk with you." He was looking after me.
As we talked, he kept me from getting hit by cars (twice) because this girl does not multitask well. Listening and watching traffic I can't do simultaneously.
He asked me where I was going--to a church on Asylum Avenue where my daughter's choir was rehearsing for an Evensong--and left me there safely.
Along the way he told me about coming to the US from the Dominican Republic, finding good Dominican food in Hartford (or not), living and working in our capitol city.
It was a fine thing. Simple and safe. Talking to a neighbor. In a hoodie. Oh my.
P.S. I took the above photo after leaving my daughter at the church on Sunday. The names of things and the crosswalk sign made me stop and think what we are about. I have to say, too, that no matter where I was in that city, it seemed there was a Y right in front of me. All kinds of goodness....