Good block, bad block

So I arrive in the synth cave today soaking wet from the rain after walking in from a couple blocks away where I left my car.

Why would I park a couple blocks away? Especially as there’s adequate parking in the little lot off the back alley and more spaces available curbside in the front of the building? And none of it was full of cars today.

Well… last night I had a Hell of a scare. I’d arrived yesterday when the spaces were all full and managed to squeeze into a space just on the edge of the lane next to the parking lot off the alley, probably not quite a legal space but I fit in without blocking lane access so I left it there.

Usually I would go out mid-evening and pull the car around to a curb space in the front, but I got busy programming and forgot.

At some point close to midnight it seemed I’d hit the point of diminishing returns and decided to head home to do some video work on the computer at home.

So I gather my shit together, lock the cave door and head out the door to the alley, locking the door behind me.

Mine was the only car left in the lot, and as I approached it a big burly guy came out of the shadows further in the lot and started walking towards me and the car.

“Hey, can I talk to you?”

Hell no! Get the fuck away from me!

Fortunately I had a head start on the car and was able to open the door, jump in, slam the door, gun the engine and peel out before he got to the car.

Didn’t even do up my seatbelt, instead a few blocks down the road I pulled over and buckled up for the ride home. In retrospect, it’s a good thing I was only able to squeeze onto the edge of the lot – usually I park right next to the inside corner where the building kinda wraps around the lot, and if I’d parked there I would have had to walk right next to the asshole to get into my car.

Said creep has been seen around the neighborhood before – he accosted me a few weeks back at the corner convenience store to get in my face and ask for change. And while the usual bums may ask, they usually do so from a distance whereas this guy came right up to me way too close for comfort. He’s at least 6’2″ and built like a linebacker, and you can’t tell me he doesn’t know he’s being physically intimidating when he violates a strange woman’s personal space. [Naturally, since then I haven’t gone anywhere near that store.]

Same thing in the alley yesterday – why the fuck was he hanging around in a parking lot with one car in it late at night? And what kind of a man thinks it’s cool to approach a woman under those circumstances? There are other bums and even crackheads who come around looking for beer bottles or whatever and I’ve sometimes seen them in the alley when leaving late at night, but they still have the civilized man’s sense of “hey, lone woman coming to her car late at night – keep your distance and don’t try to talk to her” because they actually don’t mean any harm. This guy is either so clueless as to not get that, or he had ill intentions. My gut tells me it’s more the latter scenario, especially when he’s already invaded my personal bubble before, whether he remembers me or not.

And now the sonofabitch knows that my car is owned by said lone woman leaving late at night.

Guess where I will never park again?

Fortunately Vancouver has a bit of that American city “good block bad block” thing going on. Which is to say that I have the option of parking a couple blocks away any direction but north and the neighborhood is immediately a lot safer. Creeps don’t seem capable of crossing the main thoroughfare to lurk around, just as they don’t hang out on the streetside of the same building – too much lighting and too many witnesses driving by on a busy street, I guess. It seems to be a bit like studies have found with racoons and other urban vermin – they tend to have territories of a couple blocks bounded by busy roads which they won’t cross.

The downside is getting soaked on the walk in [despite carrying an umbrella] and then getting soaked walking back. I’ll take that over any safety risks, though.

Eventually, the neighborhood will be gentrified with condos full of yuppies – in fact, a couple blocks away it’s already happened. Funny thing is that it seems to me last year I never got hassled here, it seems to have started in late spring this year where things have gotten a little shittier. I’ve even seen decrepit-looking aged hookers tottering towards their strolls several blocks further north in hot pants, thigh-high boots and tank tops giving other pedestrians the evil eye. And I’ve been hassled for money a few times.

I couldn’t care less about the odd streetwalker, she’s not bothering me, and even the beggars aren’t too much bother so long as they’re not getting in my face, but this is a whole other category.

Just like what happened to Seymour Street in the 90s, as the yuppies and other people who want a nicer neighborhood to live in move in, the scummy creeps will be pushed out to find somewhere else to haunt, but of course this takes time. I know the politically correct view is that gentrification is bad, blah blah bullshit blah blah, but I for one say fuck that shit.

Reminds me of a year or two ago Theory of a Deadman had a single that started with the line “so sick of the hobos” – while I like some of their rock songs, this one starts like a ballad and I can’t stand ballads in general so I usually flipped the station. But I recall hearing a lot of snarky holier-than-thou “how dare they write something so insensitive” comments from various local music biz/press jerkoffs.

And the funny thing is the song, called “Hate My Life,” is not a screed against bums and beggars, it’s a laundry list of everything that grates the guy’s life and that’s just one thing. There’s more bitching about shitty jobs and shitty dates and just a couple lines about being pestered for money, quickly followed by a couple lines about idiots who can’t drive properly [which is how you know they’re hometown Vancouver guys]. But anyway, I digress.

I’d much rather be able to get to my car without being hassled by some overbearing creep in a boring neighborhood full of yuppies and latte shops. Bring ’em on. The worst the yuppies do is hog the parking spaces and hog the sidewalk with their Hummer-sized baby carriages and herds of yappy ankle-biter dogs.

In the meantime, I’d rather walk 5 blocks in the pissing rain or even in the snow to my car parked on a better block than 50 feet to my car in the alley parking lot. Even if 99 times out of a hundred there isn’t a creep lurking in the shadows wanting to “talk” to me.

Call it insensitive, but I say personal safety trumps sensitivity every time.