Whenever I’m doing something possibly dangerous, I think, “What a dumb way to die.” Usually, that thought doesn’t stop me from doing whatever I’m doing, but it does help lighten the mood.
Yesterday, it just reinforced the fact that I was scared.
People don’t ride the subway in Philly. I know this because Philadelphia dwellers told me. I also know this because I rode it last night on a quest to visit Pizza Brain, a “pizza museum” that happens to serve delicious pizza, and hardly anyone was on the train at 8:30pm on a Saturday.
It didn’t bother me; I felt like a local (even though I was already informed that locals don’t ride the train).
When I got off the train and found myself walking next to a giant field that could easily feature in any number of murder mystery Dateline episodes, I didn’t panic. True, I was the only person walking along the sidewalk, which hadn’t been cleared from the snow. Yes, everything seemed deserted and the path I was on looked suspiciously like it was heading toward the highway. But I was walking toward pizza.
Actually, I was walking in the wrong direction, which I luckily found out before I reached the highway. When I turned around, the thought that this would be a stupid way to die repeated itself.
“I know,” I thought back, “but I came all the way out here for this pizza, so I need to get it.”
When I had made my way back to the train station and down the street in the right direction, only to find that the street I was supposed to turn down looked not only like it hadn’t been plowed but that humans hadn’t been down it in days, the dumb-death thought grew more insistent. I kept telling it to shut up.
Maybe you don’t understand how much I was looking forward to this pizza. I’d been thinking about the pizza museum for 2 months. I had to go to Philadelphia for work, instead of Hawaii, or Portland, which are both places my colleagues get to visit. Instead of being annoyed I was spending my weekend working in a city with as much snow as New York, I had decided to be excited beyond reason about this pizza place.
So even though the houses on the street looked like no one had inhabited them in months, and even though I saw nobody else walking, and even though if I saw myself in a movie I’d be shouting at me to turn around and go back, I kept on.
Then, by the time I got to the second turn and the street was just as desolate, and the night was just as dark, and I was just as alone and defenseless, I finally started listening to the voice warning me to value my life over pizza. On the one hand, I felt silly for being scared when I probably would have been fine continuing to trudge through the snow and ice down deserted streets by myself in a strange city at night. But on the other hand, I couldn’t think of one person I knew who would have told me to keep going. So these people, had I been shot or raped or even just slipped in the snow and been stranded, would have also thought it was a dumb way to die.
When I got back to the slightly more populated section of the city, I didn’t feel like traipsing around looking for food, especially when many places closed early in that area, so I ended up getting a takeout salad from Chili’s across the street from my crappy hotel–but not before tripping down the step to the takeout area in the restaurant and hurting my ankle.
As I waited for my pitiful salad, I got sad thinking I didn’t have someone in my life I could text right then to complain about my experience. Or, more accurately, that the person I wanted to text was the person I wasn’t supposed to be using as a crutch when I’m lonely. So I didn’t text anyone, and I sat there in Chili’s with tears slipping out of my eyes, and I felt like an idiot on most accounts.
But even that’s better than dying.
Plus, I’m going home today and probably going to eat pizza, and while it won’t be from a so-called pizza museum, I feel pretty okay about it.