It is a quiet winter night. The snow is falling and the air is soft with city light. With the white ground and the diffused light you could go out for a walk, a long walk, and with the pleasantness of the snow and the perfectness for walking of the temperature, I sorely wised I had not ten hours of work ahead of me.
Instead I went for one of my little walks up and down and was accosted by the courtesy patrol: a couple of guys with uniforms in a truck that have a cell phone and special instructions when to call the cops. They were surprised that I, a white guy, live in my neighborhood.
Brooklyn Park has been going to the dogs. At one point Jesse Ventura was the mayor, and ever since Minneapolis started to renew itself downtown things have steadily declined in the north suburbs. So much so, this year, that they shortened the 4th of July parade in Brooklyn Park significantly and one person attending witnessed quite a few arrests during the event. From time to time when I go on a walk I see the police and it never seems I see just one police car, always a herd of them.
The courtesy patrol chaps were trying to warn me to stay out of my own neighborhood which I thought was funny. They also tried to tell me these apartments in which I have lived for nearly five years are some of the worst in Minnesota. That might be true were it not for North Minneapolis. But anyway, I have a lot of courage.
I have never been mugged, but I don’t see why free people should be afraid to go outside in their own neighborhood unarmed. After all, I have my mother wit, I know Spanish (it renders me invulnerable to any Mexican of ill will, though I doubt any around here are ill-willed), and if I get mugged, I might learn something or go armed instead. No doubt there are some bad types around here (like the people who live across the hall) and some annoying types (like the people that live overhead and from whom we are decidedly going to move away in June) but nothing is so bad as thinking makes it so. I suppose they have to feel that what they do is important, these wet-behind-the-ears college kids ‘on patrol.’ I sometimes want to tell these small town hicks that I have lived in Mexico City, can find my way around it on my own, have been to dangerous places, that dogs are worse than humans, and while Minneapolis no doubt is tough, I don’t think they have the same problems with anarchy as Mexico City has. I ought to tell them that when I was in Limerick (the murder capital of Europe) I liked to take walks after dark to explore it.
But I hate to brag, and I have, as I have mentioned, courage. I’ll think of them when I go out again after midnight or at 2AM.
If I ever get mugged or work in law enforcement perhaps I’ll be more timid, like the chaps on patrol. I find it irritating sometimes, and amusing sometimes. It is like the day we came up the side of the creek after I had broken through the ice and gotten my foot wet: a liberal person came over to warn me about somebody who drowned rescuing her dog who broke through the ice of the Mississippi. 1 Shingle Creek is not the Mississippi. 2 I know the risk. 3 I got home and my foot had warmed the water in the sock (I have courage). 4 If there were a dog that had fallen through the ice I would go out to kick it back in and make sure it did not get out again.
After they drove off the snow continued falling quietly. The hoodlums hoodlummed in their hoodlummers around our neighborhood and I went on my way. I had a good friend talk this afternoon as if the winter here were not enjoyable. I was a bit astonished and I had to savor it again to see if I could sense some of what people are missing in the aching beauty and solitude of the long winter night.