Did you know I'm a thug? Yep, it's true. You want to know how I know? Because she told me so. She did. The girl. The disabled girl did. She sort of drug a limp leg along and had some sort of speech impediment. And no, I'm not making fun of her. Please.
I was enjoying about ten blessed minutes of peace on a warm afternoon in early April in downtown Albany, New York. I had dinner arrangements with a good friend and had a couple of minutes to spare beforehand. So, I rested. Gingerly. Gently. With my Timbuk2 messenger bag on the history-worm concrete steps of Albany's Trinity United Methodist Church on Lark Street. I was by myself and watching the energy of Lark Street in front of my face. The energy, the people, the excitement of an early spring warm day after a long winter in Albany. And here she came ----
"Are you a member here at the church?," she wanted to know. Well, no, I'm not a member here. But I grew up in church and have sat in many a church pew in my lifetime. "Well, if you're not, you have to leave," she remarked. Oh, I can't just sit here for ten minutes while I wait for my dinner date to arrive? No was the answer. "We've had problems with thugs and you can't sit here." I started to laugh. Out loud. And not really at her, or to her face, but at the inference of my being a thug. Me. A thug. I kind of like that in a twisted sort of way. "Do I look like a thug?," I asked her. "No," with a shake of her head. "If you don't leave, I have to call the police." Then I really started laughing. I told her that I'd been a part of several churches in my life and had never experienced not being able to sit on the steps of a church before. I told her that I thought churches were supposed to be welcoming and accepting of all which I'm just sure she wanted to hear me say. She wasn't operating on the same planet as I was so I stood to leave. She was already on her way to the church's intercom system by the big main doors to call someone. The police, presumably maybe the head chief honcho minister. I walk just a few feet to the sidewalk in front of the church and turned to watch her. No one answered her intercom call. And she did not call the police. The thug laughed again and turned to head up Lark Street.