9/4/15

Running Without Means . . .

I don't often blog about my running. Mainly because there is nothing to really report but I, dear reader, have a DOOZY of a story to share with you. This is not my GREATEST running story (this one is) but I had an experience Tuesday morning that I shan't soon forget.

Picture it . . . It's about 5:40 AM. I'm 1.5 miles in to my run. Slow and steady. I'm in downtown Wichita on Central. It is a wee more humid than I'd like but good temperatures and smooth, calm air. I see a woman ahead of me on the sidewalk. She's not running or walking (which would be odd in-and-of itself since it is typically a ghost town down there at that hour) but she's, instead, just sorta standing around eating a bag of Cheetos.

We make eye contact. I give her the once over (not in the pervy, sexual way I might typically ogle a woman while sweating and running in the pre-dawn hours of the morning (I kid . . . sorta)) but in that "Let's see what we have here and if it is a threat or not" way. This woman looks a LOT like the women pictured above (to be clear she was not one of them nor one of them her). She seems slightly uncomfortable in her own skin. I make some presumptions and we exchange a quick "Hello."

I keep running past the big, beautiful Catholic cathedral and the still newish YMCA and the old county courthouse and I turned around at City Hall and the new county courthouse and started east, again, on Central. I ran by the Lord's Diner and some of the homeless centers and housing environments. Don't get me wrong - Wichita is amazing and we need, as a city, resources for those in need but it is, admittedly, not the greatest stretch of road for your feel good feelings.

So I am coming back out of downtown in to the northern extreme of Old Town and I ran under the railroad tracks past the stinky dairy. I get more east and I see, ahead, the woman. She, like me, is now on the opposite side of the street.

She's sitting on a barrier protecting the inventory of a used car lot. She looks at me again and smiles. I run with headphones. Three reasons - it helps with pace, it prevents me from looking accessible, and it entertains me. Anywho she makes a gesture that implies she wants to chat. I, with implied and presumed dread, remove my left earphone and give that eyebrow raise that implies, with dread, a half-hearted "I'm listening."

She says the following (direct quote) . . . "I'll suck your d*ck for ten bucks."

And my lungs, already fatigued, gasp harder. The sweat on my brow runs cold. The burn in my legs urges me to go harder and faster. My generally quick wit fails me. I'm a very large, sweaty, out of breath, balding man with dri-wick clothing and reflective socks on. I'm what any rational person would declare "undesirable" at this moment in time. So I realize this isn't really about me or some carnal desire for me that must be quenched.

I get sad. I maintain eye contact. I make a conscious decision to not let my body language react and I say, hand to the powers above, the ONLY thing that came to mind . . .

"I'm sorry. I don't run with cash or my ATM card."

And I ran the whollllle way home.