It seems like weeks, months can go by with little evidence of prostitution on Penn Ave. N. and nearby portions of Lowry Ave. Then one day the prostitutes are everywhere.
This story happened yesterday but since today is Halloween, I'm presenting it as a Halloween WHORE story. (Whore? Horror? GET IT?!!!)
I was driving on Penn Ave. N. and paying attention to the road (like a good driver should) while my partner in crime was watching for something to call 911 about. We agreed the day wouldn't really be complete until we called 911 on something, so the plan was to drive around until we saw something 911 worthy. This took, um, about 2 and a half minutes...
There she was at the bus stop near the Penn Gas Stop, obviously trying to hail cars with laser like eye contact and jerks of the head; including a "soliciting in your rearview mirror" move accomplished with the kind of smoothness which comes from constant practice. As we drove past, I managed to snap her picture with my cell phone.
When I called 911 and the officer asked for a physical description I told him, "I just took her picture with a cell phone. Can I text it to you somehow?"
No, the 911 operator said apologetically. We don't have that capacity, yet. We are trying to develop that capacity. We hope to have it in the future.
OK, fair enough. So I tried to paint a verbal picture of the woman whose photo I had in my cell phone. But then my cell phone battery died so I stopped by the curb, built a fire, and sent smoke signals to 911. (OK, I'm kidding about that last part but my point is technology marches forward so either march with it or get left behind in the dust)
After I completed the call we drove up and down Penn and Lowry, looking for more prostitutes. In my considerable experience calling 911 on Penn Ave. N. prostitutes, if you see one there's more. On Lowry Avenue between Girard and Humboldt we saw a woman ducking into an alley whose manner of dress absolutely screamed, "Pick me up, I sell sex for money." The (suspected) hooker was a strawberry blonde white woman, looked to be in her early 40s but probably aged by drugs, so maybe really 30s. She was wearing a little gray cap like a train conductor and her ponytail was cocked a little bit to the right.
"Why is she going into the alley?" I asked my partner. "Do you think she already made contact with one of the cars?"
We swung all the way around the block and back into the alley. A black Mustang was in the alley and as we got close, we could see the hooker was in the front seat. The Mustang went a block away and then turned into another alley. By that time we had the license plate so we broke off and pulled over to call 911. The information about the vehicle was written on the top of a Styrofoam container with leftover Chinese food.
As we made the call to 911, right ahead of us we could see Squad 420 assisting with another call. A citizen appeared dazed, like he'd just been in a physical altercation, and Squad 420 was helping. Or maybe they were arresting the guy, but it didn't look like it. My friend reported the 911 dispatcher "didn't sound enthusiastic" about our hooker call. We decided to go back into the alley.
The Mustang was parked near a garage with both occupants inside. We got the address off the garage (3216 Humboldt Ave. N.) and were prepared to call 911 with the updated information when my partner saw the hooker running down the street. She dashed into the public library, no doubt to cruise the self-help section.
"We ran her off!" I laughed, triumphantly.
Though we hadn't been able to get police assistance quickly enough, our close up "cruise through, make mean disapproving faces and call 911" actions had completely disrupted the alley transaction.
"You should go in the library," my friend suggested. "Take a picture of the hooker and tell her we know what she's doing."
I didn't think that was a good idea, I replied. People are supposed to be quiet in libraries and, well, something like that was bound to make a scene. Before I finished my objection, we saw the Mustang sitting at the end of the alley, trying to merge into traffic. I quickly snapped a picture with my cell phone, which you can see at the top of the post.
"GO IN FRONT OF HIM!" my partner cried. "I WANT TO SHAKE MY FINGER AT HIM."
I was down for that. Normally, me and my partner struggle over how far to push these confrontations. I always want to go a bit further and my partner always wants to dial it back. But here she wanted to shake her finger in the john's face. I cruised in front of the john's car slowly, and we both pointed and shook our fingers at the dude. He was a white guy between 50 and 60, way too old for the hot car he was driving. He saw us and his face was all, like, "What? What did I do?"
So obviously we didn't get the girl on Lowry arrested and when we cruised back to Penn Gas Stop we didn't see any cops, so maybe they didn't get the other one, either.
But we sure had fun calling them in.