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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Weird times in Old Town
As the Pearl District continues to creep its way towards the Willamette, many would say Old Town is no longer the semi-urban wasteland it was a decade or more ago. While sailors are no longer getting shanghaied down there and junkies that look like they stepped out of an early Gus Van Sant movie are becoming increasingly hard to spot, that isn't to say urban blight doesn't creep up every now and again. Take, for example, this anecdote from someone I know who works as a technician for Qwest.
This unnamed tech was working at a phone terminal on an Old Town sidewalk last week when a homeless guy and a dazed 20-something wandered up. A snippet of their conversation:
HOMELESS GUY: "This girl was just stabbed by a guy in a wheelchair and the cops don't care!"
DAZED 20-SOMETHING: "..."
She seems out of it but unharmed, except for a quarter-size hole in the shoulder of her t-shirt. The girl is clean-cut and looks like she might be a PSU student.
TECH: "I'll call the police."
HOMELESS GUY: "I already did that and they don't care! We've been waiting an hour for them!"
TECH: "I don't know what else to do."
At this point, the homeless guy wanders off while muttering to himself, leaving the tech and the girl to contend with her transparent wounds.
TECH: "Would you like me to contact the authorities?"
A long, awkward pause later...
20-SOMETHING: "I just want you to know that you're really cool, Mr. Phone Man."
She then turns and rounds the corner as if nothing had happened. After I heard the story, I assumed she might have suffered a head injury. Or may have been off her meds or on something far stronger. The tech, who has encountered his fair share of delusional pedestrians in his time, let it go at that and got back to work.
So, now a question: if you had been standing there, what would you have done?