Filled Seats, Empty Streets

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I realize what products we are of the environment we’ve grown up in.

Case in Point:  Pedestrians.

A few weeks back, Michelle and I took a walk during the day down Chicago from 35th, ending up at the Modern.

Cars were going by, but I think only one person passed us on the sidewalk.  The street was kinda ours, you know?

Just didn’t see a lot of people.

We get down to 32nd, and I tell Michelle I actually haven’t been in the Modern Times.

It always looks kinda empty from the outside too. (Maybe it’s the vintage style of the sign, that gives off the flavor of main streets past.)

All I know is, I stuck my head near the door, and listened- wow, it sounds full in there!

Michelle’s like, Yeah, its full, and went on to talk about its food and kinda hippie vibe.

Sure enough, we open the door, and the place IS filled and warm, people talking, eating, red haired waitress serving everybody and asking if we need something.

I was totally surprised by how many people were in there. How ALIVE it was.

As we left with some take out tea, I figured out why.

On the three blocks we’d walked, we’d only run into one other person on the street.

This wasn’t 10pm, but a busy-feeling Wednesday at Noon.

But Minneapolis, in general, isn’t a place to walk. People drive, take the bus, ride their bikes. And yeah, people walk too, but you just don’t see them.

I was surprised by the empty streets and the filled seats.

I grew up in New York City. As soon as I’d leave my building, I’d see strangers.  Going to the subway, going to the bus, going to the grocery store.

I guess I wouldn’t have normally noticed the difference here – Often, I drive in my car to a place I want to go, then park, walk the 1/2 block and go inside. No big deal that I don’t see people. I don’t think too much about the dichotomy between inside and outside.

But on this day, we *walked*; for 10 minutes the sidewalks were ours alone. And then, to find behind the closed door, all those people in there?

—-

Yesterday, And it happened again. I walked down to 31st from Pill House once more, stopping every now and again to idiotically kneel between snowdrifts to take artful photos of the avenue.

I Stuck my head in Cafe Southside to buy a treat, and there were only like three or four people in there.

On the return journey 45 minutes later, I stuck my head back in to check their hours, I was surprised that the plae was FILLED.  Maybe 15 People in conversation at five different tables.  And until then, I don’t think I’d seen five people passing me by on the street.

***************

Reminds me of the first time I saw Downtown Minneapolis, way back when I first came to Minnesota, and  thought: who stuck a vacuum cleaner in here and sucked out all the people?

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