So it’s 11.30 p.m. and I’m driving around just to be driving around so that I can think, and rounding a corner slow in a construction zone in the boonies, a guy yells out to me.
For some reason, I stop. My street smarts alarm is ready to resign in protest, but I roll down my window in the darkness, halfway around the corner, to see what he has to say.
“Bro, can you give me a ride back to the halfway house? We go lockdown at midnight and I only have a couple weeks left before I’m off probation, so I need a ride, see. I was on my way there, but I got a little faded, you know — the smoke and shit…”
For no reason in particular, I tell him sure, I’ll give him a ride if he can give me directions. He hops in and starts giving me directions. We drive straight to the heart of the industrial district. It’s dark. I don’t recall any halfway house in the area. He turns me into a parking lot that looks like the back lot of a trucking company.
“Here?” I ask.
“No, keep going back, over there, on the right.”
By now I know I’m about the biggest chump on the planet, I know better than to even listen to shit like this. I’m gonna get mugged/stabbed/assaulted back here somewhere in this back lot (we keep rounding more corners and driving between more buildings in what seems like dark, miles-long, off-street pavement development full of steel warehouses).
And then, just as I’m getting really tense and ready to react to whatever happens, wondering why the hell I have been and am being so strangely stupid, we round another corner between two buildings and there are a couple of lights. It’s a little three-unit halfway house buried deep in the urban badlands where no-one in the community can ever find or complain about it.
We throw back a beer and I learn he’s from Tooele. And he thanks me for giving him a ride and “chillin'” for a few. And I hear a few stories about his life.
Well, well, well. I suppose tonight I won’t get mugged after all. I don’t feel too guilty for thinking I might have been getting in over my head — for being ready to fight off a knife or a gun or a fist once I’d opened my car to the guy. But I’m also glad that I apparently still haven’t lost my faith in humanity.
I’d better not try this shit too damn often, though.