Bad Luck Brandi: Bad luck in Baltimore on Pennsylvania Ave
Recently I began writing a column for an independent paper in Baltimore about the city’s youth.
For my first column I decided to write about closing recreation centers in Baltimore. After conducting research, I wanted to get interviews from those closest to the problem that lived in communities with rec centers.
There are about 30 rec centers in Baltimore. I decided it didn’t matter which one I went to and randomly chose one from a list of 30. So one Saturday, without telling anyone where I was going, I drove into West Baltimore.
You know that feeling you get when you can just tell a place isn’t a good area? Well I’m starting to believe I don’t get that feeling as strong as others do. I got a little twinge of ‘Maybe I should tell somewhere where I am in case I don’t come home,’ so I texted my roommate. Then I got out of the car. There had been a group of about five or six men standing in a circle on the sidewalk with cars coming and going, picking up and dropping people off. I instantly decided ‘Don’t interview them, they could overpower you.’ See, I do have some common sense. So I passed them and as they called out to me, I ignored them. I then went to the other side of the recreation center, which I had been unable to get into. I walked up to a woman who was sitting on her stoop as a group of three men with a pit bull stood nearby. I would later find out the pup was named “Ciroc.” I introduced myself to the woman and asked her if she was aware of the recreation center situation. She repeatedly said, “I don’t know nothing about that.” After thanking her for her time, I walked to the group of men two houses down that were still staring and watching me. One of them led me to the rec center, saying he could get me inside. On the way, a cop I had seen before while walking around approached us. Ciroc had just done his business on the sidewalk so the man I had just met was preoccupied with that and I asked the officer to show me to the rec center. I then began giving the whole spiel, “Hi, my name is Brandi, I’m a student at Towson writing a column…,” when he interrupts me and says, “Why are you here alone? Do you know this is the most dangerous street in all of Baltimore?”
Pennsylvania Avenue? Is it really?
He then started detailing everything I had done since I had gotten there, saying that when I got out of my car everyone looked at me as though I was “some white girl from the county looking to buy some drugs.” Apparently he had been keeping his eye on me. Hmm, that would explain the stares. I just thought that I stood out and that if I was friendly to everyone I wouldn’t get in trouble.
Needless to say, when someone looked at me I would wave and wish them a good morning. After the officer had escorted me inside of the rec center, he told me how there was a drug war going on there and he was on a special task force for it. He told me all the spots where he had seen people get killed, spots I was walking around on naively, and then told me the first woman that I had interviewed was a watchdog for the habitual drug house that she was sitting out front of. Oops. So I wound up interviewing him and then the very nice officer told me I needed to be more careful, escorted me to my car and advised me to leave.
I then went home to some upset roommates.