At work, we are usually able to park in the customer parking garage, so long as we park on level 7 or above. However, if it is deemed to be a “high volume” day, the employees have to park in a different parking lot, two blocks away.
Last weekend was one of those times.
I parked my car and began laboring towards my place of labor, when I noticed a car suspiciously inching around the parking lot. The car idled past a few female employees as they hurried their pace. Then it sped up and approached me.
I am always surprised to meet someone who isn’t aware that Atlantic City is not a safe city. I suppose that someone who has never been there simply assumes that it is a bustling beach town, full of casinos and commerce. But these people are only privy to the flashiness and charm of the high-rises, and not the dilapidation and despair of everything else.
I am always cautious while I am in Atlantic City, but even more so while on foot, as I lack the protective shell of my car. I imagine myself as a piece on a Monopoly board, with the chances of robbery or murder more likely on the inferior squares*.
*In reality, the chances of robbery or murder in Atlantic City are equally high no matter what street you are on.
The parking lot lies between Pacific Ave and Atlantic Ave, green and yellow respectively. But Baltic was only one block away, and I knew that was a long way from “Go.”
So as I saw the passenger window of the suspicious car going down as it neared me, I began to do a brief inventory of all my valuables.
“Hey man?” A young, white, preppy male leaned over the passenger seat and glared into the sun. He placed expensive-looking Ray-Bans on his head, and I relaxed immensely.
“What’s up?” I asked, moving slightly closer to the car.
“Can you tell me which strip club is right next to Bare Exposure?”
He asked the question casually and confident for an answer, as one might ask the time of day from someone wearing a large wristwatch.
“Sorry, man. I have no idea.” I really didn’t.
“Damn,” he said. “My buddies and I went to Bare Exposure last night, then went to this other one. I lost my wallet, and I don’t know if it fell out or if the stripper took it.” He stared at the steering wheel as he recounted the previous night’s events. “And I know I had it at this other strip club because I paid for a lap dance. I just don’t know where it is.”
He looked up at me, distraught and helpless.
“I mean, I guess park at Bare Exposure and try to retrace your steps?” I offered.
“Yea, that’s a good idea,” he said, seemingly grateful for my well drawn-out plan. “This blows…” He said this in a tone that suggested he wanted something else from me. I don’t think he was looking for money, so I can only assume he wanted some more of my time or condolences, neither of which I was willing to give.
“I’ve gotta go in to work. But good luck, man,” I said in a deep, bro-like tenor, “I hope everything works out.” As I said this, I tapped the top of his car as a surrogate pat-on-the-back as well as a way to signal the end of the conversation.
“Thanks,” he said, then drove off on his way.
I walked the rest of the distance to work, kind of proud that I legitimately lacked the knowledge of Atlantic City strip clubs to make me able to answer his question.
I also may or may not have had the thought, score one for the strippers.