Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

I am accompanied on my Friday commute by dozens of other commuters. We leave our buildings and file onto the sidewalk, all of us marching towards downtown to serve our masters. Businessmen, and women, fall in stride beside me as we make the journey to the light rail station, many falling away as I pass the financial district, they going to their desk jobs in the sky of the tall buildings, I going to my menial, yet rewarding job working at a thrift store. I’m constantly amazed at how many people are out on the street at six a.m. On a weekday.
Saturdays, however, are quite different story. When I leave my house in the wee hours of the morning on a weekend, usually only a few transients are milling about in my neighborhood. They’re always very pleasant, usually greeting me with a good morning as I get my coffee at 7-11, and usually accompanied by some term of endearment such as “sexy lady,” “baby girl,” “pretty lady,” or any variation of pretty, lady, baby, or girl. They’re pretty much harmless I’ve decided, and I accept their greetings graciously as I begin working my way down 17th Avenue.
Once I get downtown to the mall I have trained myself to go on alert. I have to wait about 20 minutes for the mall shuttle to take me to the light rail station, and I stand at the shuttle stop, anxiously turning to watch my surroundings from all directions. The homeless are just beginning to wake up, and with the exception of a few joggers or early weekend commuters, downtown belongs to the downtrodden early on a Saturday morning. This particular morning, I noticed a large black man milling about near my bus stop. He was young, his pants were hanging around his knees and his hat was on sideways. I couldn’t fathom what a young man like this would be doing on the mall at 6:30 a.m., and I watched him closely, wishing the shuttle would hurry and pick me up, hoping to find safety in numbers once I boarded. Saturdays I have to take the shuttle all the way to Union Station, which is at the end of the mall, and offers little in way of shelter, safety, or places to run if the bad guy decides to get me.
Before the shuttle arrived I was planning my exit strategy. How far down 16th would I ride with this shady fellow? Should I jump off the shuttle and pretend to be going to whatever business happened to be open? What would I do if he was going, or followed me, to the Union Station? After about ten minutes of waiting, I had already played out in my head my demise at the hands of the shady young man, and when the shuttle arrived I eagerly hopped on, hoping to thwart his attempt to attack my by nestling in between some passengers.
Not happening. There was only one other person on the shuttle. He was thin, wore a knit cap, had some kind of gang insignia name tattooed over his right eye, and three tear drops tattooed below the same eye. I’d heard once the teardrop tattoos were an indication of how many men you’d killed, either in prison or in general, I couldn’t remember. But my options were not promising. Caught between the scary young man and the tattooed convict, I took a seat in the middle of the shuttle and watched out the window for any establishment that was open, at 6:30 a.m., on a Saturday. Not much luck.
After about a block the tattooed man made the first move.
“I like your boots,” he said, referring to my black winter boots, that have a shine to them and fur lining, giving the resemblance of Santa boots.
“Thanks,” I said, resisting the urge to break into a nervous tirade about how hard it was to find good water proof boots these days.
As I looked at him I couldn’t help but notice that his skin was very clear for what I assumed was a junkie. There wasn’t the usual sunken cheeks and hollow eyes. In fact, he had a sparkle in his eyes that reminded me of my young daughter’s at Christmas time. Then I noticed the bag full of carpentry tools on the seat beside him. Then I glanced back at the nefarious young man I had been worried about, and decided if I was going to form an alliance on this shuttle, this morning, I was going to take my changes with the convict.
Turns out he’s a reformed convict, in fact he’s now a preacher at United Peace, in Aurora. He was on his way to a “fix up the homes for the indigent/old people” service project, and spends his days trying to bring the worst of God’s wayward children back into his fold. Hmmm. Imagine that. We chatted for the rest of the train ride, and I suspected he wasn’t actually going as far as I did, but took the extra trip to ensure I made it on the train safely. He followed me to the station, made sure I got on my train, then I watched him walk back to the free mall shuttle and go along his way.
I’m still not sure about the young man’s intentions, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tattooed man.

November 6, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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