As I pull into the back parking lot of Spot 79 on Southeast Foster Road, I notice a gnomish figure huddled against the rain, pot-bellied and furtively smoking a cigarette. My passenger’s already told me she needs to run inside to get the fare, so I’m stuck with the exciting prospect of a conversation with this character, who will undoubtedly ask for money.
But the figure stands motionless, and takes a minute or two to finish its cigarette before stumbling over. I roll down the window slightly and give a firm “no” before it can even get a word out.
“But please, I’m pregnant and I need food!’ she screeches, and I feel like I’ve been sucker-punched. This is indeed a young woman, and she is indeed pregnant. “Please, I ain’t gonna spend it on drugs!” she implores.
“Then why are you standing out in the bar’s parking lot at 2 am?” I stammer.
“Please, I ain’t turning tricks, I don’t wanna turn no tricks,” it comes out almost as a whisper.
I fish into my pocket and come up with four ones. “Look,” I say, my voice less harsh, “you’ve got to cut this out. I mean what you’re up to…this isn’t working, not for you and not for your kid.”
She meets my gaze with teary eyes, and whispers “I know.” And I know she does, and I don’t feel like my little lecture has helped either of us.
I hand her the four bucks, and she wanders off.