Yesterday, I was walking up Los Angeles Street towards 6th. The light was red, and as I approached the intersection I saw her. She was probably 15-16 years old, dirty blonde disheveled hair, wearing short shorts, a dirty t-shirt and a windbreaker. She was really out of it and looked like she'd been living on the streets for a couple of weeks. She was standing next to this big guy who wore a football jersey, bandanna holding back his braids. He was huge. I had a boyfriend in college who was that big, his nickname was "Wall Unit".
I stood on the corner, waiting for the light to change so I could cross. She stood next to me, looking dazed and confused. His voice, deep and sonorous, asked her, "So where are you stayin'?" He reminded me of Ving Rhames, only younger and scarier.
Still dazed, she looked down 6th Street, then up Los Angeles. She bit her lip, brought her thumb up to her mouth, then gestured vaguely down the street, "Over there somewhere." He shook his head, "Oh no, you're with me now." The light turned green. He took her hand and they crossed the street beside me. They continued up Los Angeles Street, hand in hand, while I waited to cross again. Did I just witness a pimp pick up a runaway? Should I say something, do something? If yes, then what? And to who? If I ever see her again, will she be turning tricks in a porta-potty? I watched her walk away with her new "protector" and realized I couldn't do anything. So I did nothing.
Later in the day, I found myself participating in a bizarre racist exchange on Main Street. There I was, was standing at the mid-block crosswalk on Main Street by my parking garage. I pressed the button, then I heard some guy behind me, chanting, "CHING-CHONG! CHING-CHANG-CHONG!" I heard him getting closer, thought to myself, "WTF?" and turned around.
A Middle-Eastern guy in a grey jumpsuit was about 10 feet away from me, looking right at me, walking towards me, trying to intimidate me with, "CHING-CHONG! CHING-CHANG-CHONG!" Motherfucker. I couldn't let that pass. I turned towards him and stood my ground. But I didn't yell something equally racist like, I don't know, "Fuck you, ya terrorist," or whatever. No. I mean, he didn't call me a "chink" or anything. He was just chanting some nonsense words that sounded vaguely Asian and derogatory.
So what did I do? I reciprocated in kind. I turned around, looked right at him sneeringly, and ululated. Loudly. "ULALALALALALALALALAL!" He kept walking towards me, so I showed no fear and kept on wailing, "ULALALALALALALALALAL!" He got right up to me and said something in Arabic that I, of course, did not understand. So I said calmly, "Fuck you, asshole." He continued jabbering at me over his shoulder as he walked away. I continued, "Yeah, keep walking motherfucker before I wax on, wax off on your ass, ya pussy." I know, I'm ridiculous.
And to think I was worried that downtown is getting too gentrified and boring. Well, it's a lot of things, but definitely not boring.