SUNSHINE AND RAISINS

Let me just say that we’ve had beautiful weather here the past week. Temps in the low 80’s, low humidity, temps around 60 at night, lots of sun… wonderful fall weather for Houston.

Yesterday, I decided to go for a walk and sit out in the sun for a half hour or so. Our apartment complex is surrounded by condos. In the middle of these condos is a nice little park that, during the day, is mostly filled with old ladies walking their “dogs” (any canine that weighs less than 10 pounds and has a higher pitched bark than a toddler imitating them… I don’t consider dogs). I have gone to this park several times over the past two years and have never been bothered, nor bothered anyone else.

So, much to my surprise, I was approached by an old lady (hereafter called, “The Raisin,”) wearing dark sunglasses and an attitude on her wrinkled face. She was accompanied by a “dog,” who quite frankly looked too skittish to bark. The Raisin looked at me and said, “I haven’t seen you around here, do you live here?” I replied, no, that I lived in the apartment complex across the street. She immediately frowned further than she already had been and said, “you’re trespassing, so you need to leave now.” She hastily explained to me about the signs I ignored (there are a couple of signs about no solicitation and no trespassing, but my roommate and I walk through this complex a lot — it’s off the street and safer — and like I said, I’ve used that park bench many times) and then she told me that I should leave immediately or she would call the police. I said, “okay, ma’am,” (see, I was nice) and got up and walked home. The Raisin followed me to the street and made sure I walked out of the complex. Nice lady.

Now, granted, technically, she was right. I didn’t live there, so technically, I was trespassing. There are no gates on this community, so it’s not like it’s totally private and the security officer has waved at me a time or two, so I didn’t think I was hurting anybody. The thing that rubbed me the wrong way is that for two years any other time I’ve been there, most of the old ladies stopped by, said hi, introduced me to their “dogs” and walked off. Many other times I have been the only person in the park. I have never bothered anyone, made loud noise, or disturbed anyone with loud music. I am not dangerous looking by any means. I don’t wear offensive clothing. My presence was not disturbing to anyone I’d met in previous encounters.

I really believe this Raisin just wanted to be mean. That’s what bothers me. I felt sorry for her, though. She smiled at me, a gloating smile, like she’d done something powerful or meaningful, but all she’d done is be mean. And while I didn’t necessarily need her meanness yesterday, I don’t need her bench. I can go somewhere else to sit outdoors (albeit farther away) but she still has to live with her meanness and need for power. I hope she’s happy, having thrown me out of her park, but I doubt that happiness or satisfaction lasts.

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