I’ve never lived in a bad neighborhood before. It’s actually kind of an interesting experience. It’s totally changing the way I think in everyday situations. My normal modus operandi is to wander around lost in thought, greeting the occasional passerby, looking up every once in a while to try to figure out where I am, often after dark, exploring hidden nooks and crannies.
Not around here.
Now I carefully figure out my route before I leave my apartment. I stick to busy streets, avoiding side streets, alleys, and shrubbery. I’m constantly aware of where I am and who’s around. Sometimes I’ll change routes to avoid a dubious-looking individual. (And I’m learning to spot them from 50 yards away. One distinguishing characteristic is that they don’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere.) I ensconce myself in my apartment after dark, or else get a ride door to door. My cell phone has the campus emergency number on speed dial. I’ve taken to carrying around a pipe in my bag to hit people with, and that’s only until I can get my hands on some pepper spray.
The student who was robbed at gunpoint outside my apartment the other night was standing around on the sidewalk at 1:00 a.m. on a Sunday night talking on his cell phone. It says a lot that in just one week I’ve gone from thinking of that as perfectly normal to incredibly stupid.