Monday, February 19, 2007

Muggins


This is a postcard of the Terminal Station in Atlanta. It was on Spring Street near Riches, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution Building, the Georgia Power Building, and the Federal Annex. The Federal Annex was directly across the street. Decades after this picture was taken I worked in the Federal Annex.

The Terminal Station way back then might be considered the equivalent to New York City’s Penn Station. It was where most commuters who came via train arrived.

By the time I worked across the street it was a empty old building with drunks and homeless people in every nook and corner.

I parked behind the Terminal. I remember walking to work down a cement passageway that went beside the building. Down the long walk was an exit door that would come out from the inside of the Terminal Building. The door was inset, if that is the right word – the entrance door to open was about two feet in. It made a perfect home for some homeless soul trying to stay out of the wind. The person that normally slept there had a taste for the best. Whenever possible it was a finer vodka brand or bourbon brand (Wild Turkey, etc), or some other elitist drink. Only a very few times did he lower himself to a cheap wine. Once, I saw a human size turd near his snuggling corner. It sort of burst my bubble of the person with the fine taste who tried to stay there at nights – but even the cream of the top have to have bowel movements – right?

The long cement walk with the Terminal Station on one side and a cement wall on the other led down behind the building to where many railroad tracks converged near the old platform of the once lively Union Station. It was below the viaducts and a series of bridges, also on the edge of what would in a few years become Underground Atlanta. That is where we parked our cars. It was the cheapest, $5 a week. We usually walked to our cars in a group and – safety in numbers – and tried to synchronize our arrival time and leaving time and walked to and from the Federal Annex in a group.

But, but time to time, because of different off days and sickness or lateness, at times I had to walk alone. One time I was walking in the dark from my car and a big black man stepped in front of me and asked did I have any money. I always thought it would be wiser not to carry any large amount of money but change with me for this very reason. I told him I only had change and gave it to him. He said that wasn’t good enough and he was so close he grabbed me and got me in a head hold forcing me to bend over. He brought a knife out and said he just escaped from a prison and the pocket change wasn’t good enough. He had whiskey on his breath.

He demanded my wallet, which I wasn’t about to argue about, handed it to him. He saw it was empty and gave it back. Then of all things, he started singing religious songs to me. We walked, with me in a headlock and stumbled all over in the dirt and tripping over tracks, steps, pot-holes, and curbs while he sung to me about how great Jesus was, and the whole time his blade was teasing with my neck and nose.

I kept telling myself to be docile, be docile. Do not give tell him what a mistake he is making. Do not tell him how wrong he is – and most of all, do not lose your temper and call him names. Then, a car came bumping across the railroad tracks and he pushed me away with sudden force like I sprung from his body and away he went into the darkness…. Then, away, I ran into the opposite darkness.

The Terminal Station was bulldozed away and in its place the Richard Russell Building was built. The Richard Russell Building has many Federal offices, such as the regional HUD offices. It is also where the Federal Courts are held.

Also, it wiped us out of a cheap parking place.

However, the Atlanta Post Office came to our rescue by buying 3 or 4 nearby vacant lots for its employees to park in and it was Free! But it was the same deal as previously, safety in numbers, which did not always work out when you are the only number (one).

One time I walking over the bridge that went over the tracks and through part of the Southern Railway Building about 11:30 one rainy night and a tall skinny black man approached me from the opposite direction. He was staggering. When he got near he asked if I had a cigarette. I said yes and took my pack of Winstons out of my pocket and tapped the bottom of the pack with my finger which would partially eject a cigarette, so the man could reach over, take a cigarette and be on his way. He didn’t grab the cigarette as I was hoping for, he grabbed my wrist.. He said he wanted my coat. Unlike the last time, I had a surge of adrenalin and told him he couldn’t have it. We started grabbing at each other, but keeping a dancing distance. Somehow he lounged at me and I caught his torso off balance and flung him and he fell the against the curb and he let out a cry of pain. I took off running. Then, I remembered he never got his cigarette, so I ran a few steps back towards him and said, “Take the whole pack!” And then I ran to work.

I quit smoking years ago.

Thank you elementaryhistoryteacher of Georgia On My Mind and the American PresidentsBlog for pointing me to The Atlanta Time Machine site which is loaded with old Atlanta Post Cards.

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5 Comments:

Blogger MichaelBains said...

You really are a good man, Eddie.

Ain't life a blast?

{-;

9:26 AM  
Anonymous kenju said...

Eddie, you should have parked in a better part of town!

9:39 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Michael,
Not good for a good muggings though.

Judy,
I get in more hot water trying to save a buck....

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Wow, those are quite some stories. Good thing neither guy hurt you. I think you played the situation right each time.

9:20 PM  
Blogger ET said...

Suzanne,
Survival - that is the name of the game.

2:30 AM  

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