A recent Facebook comment about a questionable area in a Certain City reminded me of the times I was mistaken for a hooker.
Yes, it happened twice, and in different cities, the first time in 1983, and the second in 1992.
One Saturday, after breakfast at Ken’s favorite greasy spoon, I asked him to drop me off at the Tucson Mall. He said he would do that after he got a haircut. I didn’t want to wait for him, so I decided to take the bus.
I had dressed appropriately for a cold February morning on the desert. I was wearing a pair of old, comfy jeans and a turtle neck top worn under a bulky sweater. The heavy wool car coat I wore over everything else made me look like I weighed about 300 pounds.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of NOT standing next to the bus stop sign. I was standing about ten or twelve feet away when a man in a late model white car pulled up to the curb and parked in front of me.
At first, I thought he might be someone I knew from work or school, but when I made eye contact with him (which I probably shouldn’t have), I realized he wasn’t. I wondered what the heck the guy was waiting for. About two minutes later, it dawned on me.
Yikes! I was standing on the Miracle Mile, a road that people often referred to as Hooker Highway.
I forgot about going to the mall and fled to the barber shop. Ken walked out the door just as I got there. “Ken,” I shrieked, pointing back in the direction of the bus stop, “Some guy thinks I’m a hooker.”
Ken was not amused. I didn’t get to the mall that day, but I did get a lot of mileage out of that story. I often joked that I was going to have a T-shirt custom printed with the words: I am not a hooker.
I probably should have followed through on the T-Shirt idea. I could have worn it in January 1992, on the Sunday morning I walked Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Hey, I was just doing a little amateur detective work.
I was minding my own business—well, more or less—when a man driving a beat-up blue car came along, slowed down, and stopped a couple of yards past me.
After my Tucson experience, I guess I should have expected that. I was a woman walking alone on Pacific Avenue, which, at that time, was Tacoma’s version of Tucson’s Miracle Mile.
But it was Sunday.
Oh, for gosh sakes, give it a rest.
This time, I didn’t hang around wondering what the man had in mind. I fled across the street to Denny’s restaurant, squeezed into the last available seat at the counter, and pulled a bus schedule out of my backpack. I sat there sipping really bad coffee for almost an hour until I could catch a bus that took me far away from that area.
In hindsight, perhaps I should consider staying out of cities with names that begin with the letter T.