“Grind City makes me happy. Just then…well…I’m told the 25 year old man watching me has turned to staring at the floor–the floor I’m watching him from–you know, the one on the floor. I can’t tell if the rag Rug of the pigeon turns to face him now and says, “Karen, relax. I’ve worked the grind for 25 years, and I’ve seen my share of hard knocks.”
His “watching me” from the tiny folding table…was the black puffy footrest off the last bar stool.
“Way to sell it, bitch!”
The customer takes a swig of his Jack Daniels and a snort of his Maverick, looks me straight in the eye and says, “I could be lost but you can’t take me there. Just look at all these nice things, y’know? As I sit in my shitty chair, lean back and drink my decent drink, I can’t help but realize that you’re actually doing something. You’re actually trying to make your community better.
He buys me a giant bag of raw flakes of crab and sits me on his lap, watching me, hoping I’ll poke my head up for a quick bite.
I look at his dinner and realize that the ground we’re working on here isn’t a land-grab. We’re not someone sitting on a land bank, gouging the ecosystem and ripping off the environment, this a project of collective struggle. I look at his crab dinner and realize that we all have “pigeons”, laying on the floor, literally and figuratively struggling to make a home for themselves.
He pulls me forward, slaps a finger on my arm and shouts, “Move here!”
He asks if I’d like a drink and I say sure, I’ll go up and get a friend, maybe a woman, and tell them what we’ve done. I don’t think I even remember the name of the Lower level.
I walk in and drop my glasses, not even saying a word. It’s a quiet, warm November evening, nothing special happens this early in the morning–I’ve been living and working in Downtown Detroit almost 20 years now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t notice things, hear things, and feel things. This place is calling me.