Friday, June 27, 2014


I watched a co-worker rappel off of a 22 story building downtown this morning.  It was a fundraising event for the Special Olympics.  As good a cause as that was, I won’t belabor discussing the event here, as it was largely uneventful. 

I was there with several co-workers, two of whom are reasonably attractive 30-something females who, I noticed, caught the attention of more than one man in the crowd.   

I was unconcerned with that, until one of the admirers turned out to be an unwashed-looking character with head, face, and neck tattoos, and a couple of his shady-looking friends.
Nothing screams "Poor impulse control, poor decision making,
and no desire whatsoever to ever be an upstanding member of society" than tattoos on the face, amirite?
They moved over close to my group.  Neck-tats was acting pretty nervous, pacing back and forth and glancing all about.  I could not tell if this was a result of his having been a tweaker, or if he was nervously telegraphing the fact that he was about to start something nefarious.  It didn’t matter to me, as either option was unacceptable, given his proximity to my group.  The other was a short, stocky, menacing looking fellow who didn’t make much effort to conceal the fact that he was essentially leering lecherously at my co-workers. 

One of the young women recognized quickly what was happening, and moved away from the group.  The other was nearly unaware of the existence of her admirers, and stood intently with her face to the sky, watching my other co-worker descend from dizzying heights, on a rope that appeared to be much too small, at least in my estimation. 

I also noticed that of the other male co-workers that I was with, only one seemed to be aware of the very real threat that bordered our group.  He walked over with the situationally-aware young woman and stood next to her, unceremoniously, while I inserted myself between neck-tats and the other of our group who was less aware. 

I did it casually, without telegraphing my intentions, and I stood in such a manner as to block the stocky fellow’s view, while putting myself in a strong position vis-à-vis neck-tats, in case he stopped being all tweaky and started being more forceful. 

Neck-tats continued to pace and twitch throughout the event, casting me nervous sidelong glances the whole time, while his more purposeful, glaring friend lost interest and started looking at a different gal in the audience.  The entire time, I lamented the fact that I decided years ago not to carry a pistol while at work.  The escalation was subtle, but these guys were really up to no good, and I knew it in my bones. 

"What are you no-goodniks up to, now?"

It wasn’t until a Spokane police officer moved in our direction, similarly curious about the intent of this nefarious looking gang, that they dispersed and moved away. 

I have no idea what their intent was, or if there was any intent there at all.  

"I just wanted to ask if you'd found Jesus, man.  That's all!"
I do, however, believe that had their intent been dishonorable, that I would have surprised them mightily by being ready for them.  I don’t think that they realized that I was in condition Orange at all.  My guess is that they thought I was condition white, just like the rest of my co-workers, and that was to my advantage.  


  1. Tweakers in Spokane!? No way! I couldn't help that, being Western MT born and raised- it seems, looking back, that generally the more nefarious elements that floated into the valley were 'visiting from Spokane' and likewise the more nefarious the local, the higher likelihood that they would eventually move there. There's obviously a lot more to the Spokane Valley then that, but for some reason that seemed unusualky common. Glad everything turned out ok for you- it often seems that even the appearance that one is with a group deflects some unwanted attention. There are times that we gunny types like to mock 'the herd' but its valuable to remember that animals herd for a reason.

  2. Any town as large as Spokane is going to attract a certain subset of the population that is, shall we say, less than savory?

    And like any other large town, you have good areas where you can leave your keys in your car on the street and it will be there for 6 days before your neighbor knocks on the door and hands them to you and says “I noticed you left your keys in your car,” and there will be bad areas where you’ll lose your hubcaps if you stop at a light for too long. It’s one of the things that more rural people have trouble understanding – you can live 5 blocks from the worst part of town and never have a bit of trouble, or you can live in what is essentially a demilitarized zone, and the boundaries between these areas are pretty well established and hard.

    The tweakers seem to have a sense of the fact that if they go outside of their area, and start messing with people in the middle-class parts of town too much, the town will lose tolerance for them really quickly, and they’ll be rounded up like cattle and either imprisoned or given a one-way ticket to the next town down the line. They know their place. They know that they stick out like a sore thumb outside of their areas, and that people are keeping an eye on them.

    But if you go into their territory, you need to be prepared to be in condition Orange the entire time you’re there, because they see you as prey while you’re there. For this reason, most civilized folk don’t travel into their areas after dark, or outside of large groups.

    Mrs. Goober used to work the night shift in downtown, until my nerves just couldn’t take that anymore and I talked her into quitting that job and moving on. I couldn’t handle her, alone, walking around on surface streets and parking garages at 2 am, and my hours were such that I couldn’t afford to pick her up every night.

    1. Missoula and the surrounding area were those 'Next Towns down the Line', but we shipped just as many back. I'll admit that I grew up with a few misguided souls who were involved in moving illicit substances from Spokane to points east. Thankfully, they've all left that trade. Phoenix was my next port of call- there's some fine examples of neighborhood variation in that city. I worked on million dollar homes within five blocks of areas that may have well been marked Here be Dragons. As Tam has reference 'The corner of Thirtywhatth and What', Phoenix has '19th Avenue and Where?'.

  3. Good thing they moved away.

    I live not far from you but outside the city. When I visit Spokane I make it a habit to carry - concealed, of course. What was once a nice little city has become a miniature of every other American city. Neck tats and the fire plug are examples.

    I think, and most cops would agree, that it is considerate of the gang guys to announce themselves with neck and face tattoos. It makes identifying them easier.

    I knew you were in Spokane as soon as you mentioned rappelling from the bank building. I had heard the ads for the event and wondered about how the building owner dealt with the liability in these litigious times.

    Good for you for staying aware.

    1. Yeah, it is thoughtful of them to announce to the world that they are shitty people with shitty intentions by getting neck and face tatts, for sure, but this guy?

      This guy didn't need the tatts to telegraph to me that he was bad news, and had been bad news for years, and had no plans to be anything other than bad news for the remainder of his years.

      As for the liability, despite popular opinion on the matter, our court system is not screwed enough that they would allow a person who chose to rapelle off of a 22 story building to sue the building owner for "unforseen" liabilities.

      It's kind of like that article I read about the porn star that sues the guy who threw her off a roof and into a pool as part of a publicity stunt, of which she was a willing participant. The throw came up short, and she broke her leg, as I recall.

      In essence, the reply to the lawsuit that she filed went something along the lines of "let me get this straight... you agreed to allow him to throw you off of a rooftop, into a pool, and you got hurt... AND THAT'S HIS FAULT?"

      As far as I know, her case went nowhere.