This past weekend, while taking some shots downtown, I noticed a couple of kids sitting in front of Westlake Center.
Being a fan of random street life images, I snapped a quick photograph and moved on. As I was walking away, I heard someone scream “Pictures are a dollar!”.
I didn’t bother looking back. I just shrugged and walked on. I kept hearing the demand, though. “Pictures are a dollar!” The voice kept following me and it was getting closer.
“Hey, you took a picture of me, and pictures are a dollar. Give me a dollar!”
Finally, I turned around, and this white kid, maybe 19 years old (yet inexplicably balding), 5’3″ and 120lbs soaking wet is standing in front of me. I’ve seen a million of these kids before. In Port Authority or on Hollywood Boulevard, fresh off the bus from Iowa and still full of piss and vinegar. The kid was still clearly optimistic. It would be another one, maybe two weeks until he got fisted in a McDonald’s bathroom for $2 and a pack of Marlboros.
As I was looking at him, he kept going, “Hey you, you owe me a dollar! Give me my dollar!”.
Part of me admired his persistence, the other part of me began getting annoyed.
Calmly, I said “You are on a public sidewalk and pictures are free”.
“I don’t care!”, he snapped, “Any pictures with me in them cost a dollar, give me a dollar!”
I began to get a little bit more annoyed at this point. You are allowed to aggressively panhandle in Seattle, so the kid wasn’t doing anything illegal, but I began to wonder where we were going with this little exercise. Where was the endpoint?
I’m 6’3” and 190lbs so I can’t exactly pop the little punk in the nose. Who’s going to buy a self-defense claim? I certainly don’t want him following me around for the rest of the day, either. I could just imagine sitting on the toilet later in the evening with the kid knocking on my bathroom door shouting “Give me a dollar!”.
Finally, I just said “Look, I’m not giving you a dollar”.
“Man! You’re so lucky there are cops around!”, he shot back, at which point he turned around and walked away.
It was kind of anti-climactic, but okay. Another life saved by the SPD.
Now, I had all but forgotten about this little incident until today when I was scrolling through my photos from this weekend. I stumbled upon the picture I had taken to enrage the boy, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw exactly what it was that the kids were peddling.
Atheism. It looks better every day.