See You on the Ground, Downtown
New Baltimore City Slogan?
People always seemed surprised that a Man About Town like myself lives in the unhip suburbs instead of "happening" hoods like Hampden, Mt. Vernon, Bolton Hill, or the Station North Arts District. To which I can reply: read Justin Fenton's Assaults Assaults on rise in downtown and Peter Hermann's Downtown gets riskier after dark articles today's Baltimore Sun.
You see, I don't like violence, crime and confrontation. Given that my only self-defense skills were learned from the Roadrunner School of Meep Meep Runaway Evasion, I like safety. I know the suburbs have crime as well because crime today is global. Still, I've seen enough random acts of violence and provocation working downtown the last eight years to last me a lifetime.
See, I'm scared of aimless youths with nothing better to do than hassle people. Especially the girls. I've seen teenage and younger girls come into my workplace and harass people just because they look "soft" or wear glasses or talk funny or look different from them. One teenage girl actually told a friend of mine, "I could have you killed." Whether this was true or merely a statement intended to impress her friends, the ramifications are frightening. Funny, but if someone accidentally "disses" them - by an act as small as asking them to lower their voice in the library or stop running around like they're at a track meet - in their minds speaking back to them is grounds for a beat-down, if not justifiable homicide.
I used to be a sociable creature. Unfortunately, I've learned to tone it down and not look or speak to most people I see on the street. Someone somewhere will take offense just by me noticing their existance. Or ask me for money. Mr. Nice Guy has become Mr. Leave Me Alone and Mr. I Don't Wanna Be Involved. I just keep my pace brisk, my head down, and my nose out of trouble - as much I realistically can.
I came across an interactive local crimebeat website where people responded to the recent spate of downtown violence and found the following guy's post to be spot-on:
I just graduated from UB and have lived in Mt Vernon (and now Bolton Hill) for 10 years. This is a beautiful area and a great place to live. It is one of the few areas in Baltimore where you really don't need a car. That said, you will not feel safe at all times in Baltimore and if you do, it is an illusion. The best thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings and body language so you do not look like a victim. That is cost of living of living here I am afraid. That will be true even once this current increase in violence in gone. In the 90s we had to be careful of transvestite prostitutes... last year rapists on the balconies.... now young thugs. Welcome.