One of my two favorite bookstores in the world moved (Powell’s in Portland is the other..)… So I needed directions. Like most folks, I found the directions on Google Maps… and the directions led us to what Andy considered a bad neighborhood.
Granted, it was a little sketchy. It was also pretty industrial and the road Google Maps told us to take was under another road, so it looked a bit threatening.
Also, we were hungry — having already had a mountain adventure and Frozen Dead Guy days… So, I stopped at McD’s. It was daylight on a Saturday afternoon.
The thing is, I knew pretty much where we were. It wasn’t the best of Denver neighborhoods, but Hubby and I had lived in the area 20 years prior and it wasn’t any worse than when a fresh-faced 21 year old girl from Minnesota (i.e. me…) managed to survive there for a few months before moving to the ‘burbs.
Yea — it was urban, but there weren’t burned out cars on the street. There wasn’t much gang graffiti. Sure, we were the only white folks we could see — but, there were families and folks in multiple shades of non-white. There was also Ronald McDonald… everyone’s favorite white guy — on our side.
The thing is, I have a strategy for these kinds of situations — pretend you belong there. Smile at folks, do your business, lock the car doors and act comfortable. If you don’t get nervous about the folks living in their own neighborhood, they won’t get nervous either.
I learned this strategy from my mom. She did some visiting nurse work in some sketchy neighborhoods in Minneapolis. She often had to go late at night — in her red coat and nurse uniform. The general sense on the street is that you don’t f*ck with a nurse who could be related to Santa.
We went in and ordered our food. Since there was nobody in line behind us, I asked at the counter how to find the main street we were looking for, and then how to find the Tattered cover. Two lovely ladies in McCrew uniforms told me exactly how to get there, how far it was from where we were and that they loved that bookstore. We chatted a bit more and I told them that Hubby and I used to be stationed at Lowry AFB. Turns out they live in the neighborhood built when the base was decommissioned. We had a bond.
As we ate, Andy and I had more conversation with one of the ladies who visited us at our table while cleaning the lobby. She wasn’t quite Andy’s type, seeing as how she didn’t seem to have any teeth — and I can’t say that I share her taste for
soft porn for women romance novels, so I doubt we’d seek her out as a coffee companion but we had a good chat anyway.
Once we found the best bookstore in the Mountain time zone, I bought a map and figured out for myself how to get back to the ‘burbs.
Overall, it wasn’t wise to trust Google Maps, but we didn’t get shot or stabbed, we made a couple of friends and we found our destination. Sometimes travel leads you to places you didn’t anticipate, which seems to be kind of the point — no?
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