Setting: Chicago 2015
You don’t walk around Chicago as much as I do without seeing a few things you shouldn’t.
Mostly bums peeing in an alley.
A kid swiping candy while the cashier is distracted by their friend.
An open window broadcasting a domestic dispute.
Of course I just kept walking like I didn’t see.
But I did.
And did nothing.
I am not a hero.
What a waste of perfectly good sleeping hours.
Coffee. Double Check.
Tinge of paranoia that I forgot something..
At least I know THAT will always be around.
Now to get to work without making eye contact with anyone..
Here’s the thing about work:
Its not that I hate it or my job sucks, its just.. Boring?
No not boring..
Tedious is probably the right word. Tedious and frustrating. As is any customer service job.
Im good at it, which is convenient, but there’s only so much paperwork one can look at before it all blurs together in muscle memory.
This is my 8 hour prison.
Release comes in the form of a gym. Every ounce of tedious frustration gets pounded into a heavy bag before I start my long walk home.
Jump rope. Two rounds.
Into the ring. Shuffle shuffle shuffle, SWITCH.
Stairs. Two rounds. So many stairs.
Body shot. Body shot.
Keep your feet moving.
Head down hands up.
Until you can’t breathe and your feet form blisters.
One more round.
Until every inch burns.
One more round.
The night air cools my skin. No need for a sweater with red hot cheeks. I walk slowly. Nowhere to be until I crash into my bed. My normally racing thoughts have quieted down to a tired murmur, except to suggest beer.
Beer sounds good right about now.
I forgot to take off my wraps. I always forget. Priorities just aren’t the same in my post workout fade. The night is clear and still.
As I approach my station, I notice a woman across the street. Her attire said business woman, but her demeanor said stressed. She was fumbling with her purse and notebook while trying to keep her phone balanced between her ear and shoulder. I will never not be grateful for my Bluetooth headphones.
She was such a spectacle that I didn’t even notice who was behind her until she started crossing the street towards me. Young male, hoodie pulled up and shoulders slouched forward to keep light off his face, but I saw was he was staring at. An easy target.
“Hey.” I turn and step into the street. The woman is startled. Her sudden motion causes the man to look up as well. Or boy, rather, as I finally see his face. Some college kid, maybe late 20’s? Who can even tell anymore?
One word is enough for him to change direction and continue crossing the street at a wide angle. I point behind the woman.
“You dropped your pen.”
She thanks me, but with a bit of a stink eye for interrupting her super serious conversation. I keep an eye on her as we wait on the train platform together, considering what just happened. I slowly flex and unflex my fists, watching the way my knuckles move under the wraps.
What would happen happened if I didn’t stop, if I just kept going as if I saw nothing? A simple mugging? Maybe worse?
Am I a hero?