Unsavory Characters

Bright Lights, Big City…Stolen Wallets?

Nikki and I drove Sean and Aaron into the city tonight for the Rush concert. While they were at the concert, we were going to meander around a bit and enjoy some girl time. So we left the boys at the Garden and headed into the North End and around to Faneuil Hall, with no agenda other than people-watching. At some point we stopped and sat on a bench in this little garden area that was a bit apart from the beaten path. Apparently we don’t have city pheromones; rather, it seems, we have Suburbanite plastered somewhere on us, because in record time we were approached by a woman with, I must say, quite a creative story meant to swindle us out of a couple of bucks. Having worked in the city I know that when these folks approach you it’s almost always to get money for nefarious reasons and not, as she claimed, to catch a ride on the commuter rail after being ditched by her drunk boyfriend who was attending the Rush concert and made off with her ticket. (She had a Rush concert shirt on for good measure.) Still, there’s always a part of me that feels like if these folks are so down on their luck that they have to approach total strangers…and maybe their story is even a little true…then the least I can do is fork over a couple of bucks if I have it. And if they use it to drink or drug, well it’s on their conscience, not mine. I hope they’ll use it to eat is all.

Anyway, Nikki and I were scrounging around for a couple of singles when suddenly we felt the presence of a third party. A guy had come out of nowhere and was suddenly at Nikki’s side, standing so close she could feel his breath on her neck. Shit, I thought. We fell for this stupid goddamn set-up. Damn our soft hearts. So we were preparing for the mugging that was sure to ensue. The woman wandered off, and before the guy had a chance to do or say anything, we rose and walked quickly away before he had the chance to, you know, puncture our lungs with a sewing needle or whatever.

It was dark but it was only a minute or two before we made it back into a crowd of people and we decided it was probably a good time to head to Cheers to wait for the guys. So we made my way in and sat at the bar and struck up a lovely conversation with the bartender. When we asked for an appetizer menu, we were informed that the bar was actually closing early that night because the city was coming in to do its monthly health inspection. While I’m all about the establishments I patronize being inspected to ensure cleanliness and health and safety standards, I have to question the wisdom of these inspections taking place during business hours, especially on a night there’s a concert in town. Seems to me they’d lose a lot of business. The bartender confirmed this, and voiced his own disapproval of the process, but alas, there was nothing that could be done. And this is, after all, the same city that allows restaurants and pubs to stay open until 2 AM, though public transportation (the T) shuts down at 12:45. That’s nonsensical. They’re practically endorsing drunk driving by not offering people the chance to get home at a reasonable price…a couple of bucks on the train versus at least $40 or $50 for a cab if you live outside the city proper. Brilliant.

Anyway. We finished our drinks, texted the guys to meet us at the Fours, and made our way over there. As we approached the Fours we stopped to look at our phones to see if the guys had received our texts. We were right across from the Fours. We should have just taken the extra couple of steps and checked our phones in the restaurant. But no, we figured our uh-oh moment for the night had come and gone and we were safe to stop for 30 seconds. Yeah, no. Just as I looked up I saw this very drunk man, walking—stumbling—toward us on the crosswalk. You have GOT to be kidding me. We were waiting for the light to turn before we attempted to cross and we had no choice but to wait it out lest we be struck by a wayward bread delivery truck. The guy reached us long before the walk signal flashed, but instead of asking for money he stated that he needed a woman’s perspective on the following problem: Seems his girlfriend had promised to meet him at this particular street corner at 8:30 (it was now closing in on 10:00), just after she ran to the store for some smokes. She had yet to show up, he lamented, and wondered what I thought it meant. Who am I? Dr. farking Phil? What did I think it meant? Seriously? I think it means she dumped you, dude. I didn’t say this out loud, of course, for fear that the wrong answer may get me punched stabbed. And I momentarily found myself wondering if this clown belonged to the woman who had scored money from me because she needed to take the commuter rail home after her drunk boyfriend made off with the Rush tickets. Mercifully the light turned and we started to walk across the street, turning slightly to tell him to keep the faith, we were sure she’d show up. He may still be there for all I know.