Tuesday, February 10, 2015

that feeling up the back of your neck

So I'm fairly sure I got cased out on the street today.

I was walking through downtown Lawrence, on my way to the coffee shop, about 9 am before all the shops were open. Bright daylight, chilly, very few pedestrians.

I cross the street from south to north, at the corner, and two guys cross from the opposite corner, from east to west. As they cross, one of them goes straight, but the other makes a beeline for me, adjusting to my trajectory so he steps up on the curb maybe two feet behind me, and then lingers there for three or four strides.

 I did a 180 turn, maintaining my stride, looked him in the eye. He, of course, almost steps on me and has to skip to the side, with a grunt as if I were being annoying.

"Excuse me," I said, and kept walking. I figure he's going to either drop back or stride ahead, but he kept pace with me, at the building edge of the sidewalk. We're watching each other from the corners of our eyes.

I have on combat boots, a utility jacket, backpack. He's about my age, six feet, lean, dressed like a clean homeless guy. I check the shop windows but can't see his partner. I keep my hands in my pockets and slow my pace.

My kung fu teacher says, if you don't want to fight, act like you do. And I know from experience that if you act unafraid, they'll wonder what you've got in your hands, inside that coat. In any case, I'm not about to run from a predator when there's nowhere to go, anyway.

I'm pretty sure I bluffed him out. Because after a minute, he said, in a very phony glib voice, "So you up here for school?"

And I said, in my usual cold flat response to idiocy, "I'm not out here for conversation, thanks."

He says nothing. He drops back. I cross the street at the light, keep going. Didn't see them again. My pulse accelerated a bit, but that was all. I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but it was definitely shady.

And I thought again, as I walked home a couple hours later, what a sheltered life I have led, that I have so seldom had to deal with nonsense like that. Wish I'd gotten a better look at his partner.

EDIT: I did call dispatch later that afternoon and they sent an officer to my house to take a statement. Nothing ever came of it but the young officer got a glint of respect in his eye when I used the term "interview" and dropped the name of Gavin de Becker.