By now we’re all experiencing some mind-blowing outcomes of social distancing right smack in the transition of winter to spring, like sidewalk-chalk-art all along your street, or happy noises from neighbor kids on homeschool recess, or a sex trafficker mistaking you for a vulnerable homeless teenager.
The streets were post-apocalypse-empty, and quiet, so when a guy darted out from behind a building into the park at Second and Jackson hollering hey, HEY, you couldn’t miss him, this person clearly needing something, clearly in need, clearly relieved to find someone to ask for directions or a lighter or whatever. I’m like, hey yes, you need something, hey?
For a few seconds it felt like fate, like I’d been put in the path of this needy person to do some heroics only I could do. This was the one single #StayHomeMN day when instead of walking in the woods, I’d walked through Old Town to Autotronics where my beloved Ford Bronco II had been towed for service right before this whole thing hit. My mission was to pay the Bronco a quick loving visit and reclaim the essentials I’d stashed there, namely, my case of Tarot cards and my Converse Chuck Taylor low-tops so I’d have something other than snow boots to wear out walking.
I’d also left a bunch of shopping totes in my truck, so I stuffed them full of each other plus the Tarot plus the Chucks, leaving no room for my coat once temperatures peaked on my walk back home. By the time I got to Jackson Street Park, I was dragging, and sweating, bags banging against an unnecessary amount of padding.
But the guy clearly needed help so I took a few steps forward to allow us to speak at normal volumes while still keeping pandemic-appropriate distance. There we were, strangers in a park at a time when strangers everywhere are making connections from a distance, trying to do some good however we can, and he’s like, do you want to make some money?
You just gotta open your mouth. Do you want to make some money.
I’m like, what exactly are you saying. What are you asking, exactly. He said, I’ll give you a hundred dollars to get with me, in there.
“There” was the U.S. Bank parking ramp, which, as noted, was empty. He was really put-together, in a tailored coat and dark jeans, and his tone was confident like a hero helping out a girl in need.
“No, nope,” I said. “I’m gonna go.” I took a couple steps back to start the process of walking away.
“Are you sure. Are you sure? You want to take my number in case you change your mind.”
That phrase drained the whole thing of any context that might have felt familiar. This wasn’t small talk turned flirty. This was a business proposition. We were so far away from each other, there’s no way he could have seen how pretty I look with my quarantine-inspired makeup-free face, or how fit I am from walking every day, or how good my dreadlocks look from all the constant palm-rolling. All he could have seen, from that distance, was a small-framed female walking empty streets with matted hair, out-of-season snow boots, a sagging coat, and a lot of overstuffed shopping bags. Possibly in need of help in the form of quick cash. Possibly needy enough to change her mind, later, and give him a call.
The Mankato Public Safety personnel who took my report were wonderful, just really human and patient and great, despite that this was probably their least-urgent matter of the day. Officer McClintock closed out our conversation by asking if there was anything I needed. I’m like, no, I don’t personally need anything, I just need it on record that sex work was solicited in broad daylight at the corner of Second and Jackson.
The Tower is about disaster. Prior to my walk yesterday, I had an adorably clever post planned, about this card. What I’m gonna say instead, is that The Tower suggests now is a good time to keep watch.