One of the funniest things that has ever happened to me; although it wasn’t at all funny when it occurred…
My first day ever, in Anchorage in September of 1996, after a summer working at Denali National Park, I was staying with my friend, Shari, and we decided to take a walk and get a bite to eat. After a nice snack at the Middleway Café, we were walking back through Spenard to her cute log house rental, and Shari was talking animatedly as usual, and not paying attention to where she was walking. I kept telling her she was going to get arrested for jaywalking. Well, next thing you know, a cruiser pulls up, and we are confronted by a police officer!
This guy struts over and starts an inquest. “Where are you ladies going?” he asks. Shari says something like, “Walking to my house.” “And where are you coming from?” he asks. Shari told him where we’d been. “And what were you doing there?” he asks. Shari responds, “Having some food.” Okay by this time, I’m getting curious, so I inquire, “Excuse me, but did we do something wrong?” He replies, “Well, when I see two ladies walking in this neighborhood unescorted….” Finally a light bulb moment – he thinks we’re prostitutes!
Are you kidding me? We were wearing jeans and hiking boots. Shari had on a bulky fleece top, that went down to her knees, and I was wearing a huge puffy down coat. The only skin we were showing was on our faces and hands! The neighborhood of Spenard is a trendy area with some great stores and restaurants and we were totally unaware of it’s seedier side.
I say sarcastically, “Nice town, Shari.” I look at the officer and say, “Listen, I used to work in law enforcement, and this is really bogus.” I think it finally dawned on him that he may have made a mistake, and he started backpedaling.
Meanwhile, Shari has fire in her eyes, and steam coming out of her ears, and explodes with, “Unescorted?” She stomps her foot. “UNESCORTED?” We were both thinking, “Where are we?” and “What year is this?” Is there a law in Anchorage declaring women cannot walk down the sidewalk in the middle of the day without a man?
Shari was still spouting off, and not calming down any, and I thought we ought to end this whole bizarre encounter, so I asked, “Is it okay if we leave now?” He agreed, and as we started to walk away, Shari spins around, and shouts, “Besides, there are too many people in this town that give it away, to make that line of business profitable!”
I pulled her away and we continued on our walk. Shari says, ”It’s 4:30 in the afternoon! What does he think we are, the businessman’s special?” I joked that maybe he was trying to harass us into giving him a freebee!
We arrived back at her place, where a few of our Denali Park friends were visiting. We were still shocked and appalled and fuming as we told everyone what had just happened to us. I said I felt like writing a letter to the editor, or to the police department and I wish I’d noticed the officer’s name. Shari has an amazing photographic memory, and said, ”Officer TIMMONS! T-I-M-M-O-N-S, TIMMONS!”
She just couldn’t stop expressing her amazement at his “unescorted” comment. The funniest part was that it seemed to be lost on her that we should also be offended that he thought we could be prostitutes!
Editors note: We now have two instances of mistaken identity in Spenard, on either end of the “ladies on street corners” coin. We wonder if anyone has a non prostitute related story? Thank you Carol for your story, we hope Officer Timmons learned his lesson about making assumptions on sidewalks in Spenard.