The time is 11:11 and I’m back at the hotel. We had training all day and then an excellent party at a venue called 12th and Porter where there was a buffet, drinks and fabulous live music. I introduced myself to many new colleagues and we all had a good time.
But it was after I left that things got interesting. I left by myself intending to check out the souvenir shops for my boys and stopped by the Exxon station just north of the bar to get a beverage.
As I came out there were some young people by a pickup truck and they were looking in my direction saying “What’s up?” I ignored them and continued on my way. One of them followed me saying “What’s up?” It was then my heart started racing and if I had turned around I thought I might be in for a fight.
Now I was in a company t-shirt and I have a family. I could see the kid out of the corner of my eye and it would have been a very short fight turning out very badly for him. But I’m now 41 years old, have a family and responsibilities. If this kid had wanted to fight, he would have been in for a very big surprise and lost very quickly but here is what went through my mind. He could have had a knife. I could lose my job. I could lose the ability to care for my family. In the moment of a fight I could toss him over the bridge and he would be dead.
So I kept my mouth shut and just continued walking. He had a look at me close up, stopped, spit off the bridge and didn’t continue pestering me any further.
And so I continued on my way, bought some gifts for my boys, responded to a text from a colleague at a bar and then came back to the hotel.
Isn’t it interesting that the original thoughts going through my head were of my relatives that could live in this very city but those thoughts were quickly dashed by a couple of thugs that could have completely changed the course of my life. This was my experience in Tennessee. Thoughts of family being quickly erased and the course of my life being changed as well! No. Keep my mouth shut, keep walking and now when I think of Tennessee I no longer think of my relatives but of a couple of thugs in a parking lot at a gas station.
How I would have liked to walk straight towards them and ask them “What’s up?” No. Just keep walking and continue on with my life and providing for my family.