This morning, I was driving home from work. As I skimmed by downtown Minneapolis, I saw billowing smoke rising from what I thought was somewhere near my apartment. As I got closer, I thought the smoke might actually be coming from my neighborhood. I exited, turned toward our house and felt relieved when I realized we weren't on fire. But, curiousity got the better of me and I kept driving closer to the source. I parked, got out, and walked down the street. Roads were closed to cars, but people were still milling about.
I came upon a very surreal scene: A local business building was definitely on fire and fire crews had already arrived. The flames were no longer visible, but smoke was billowing at an incredible rate. Firemen on ladders and on foot kept a continuous stream of water going over the building, while people watched from across the street. Kids were getting off of their buses and heading into the school right next to the building. While there were many spectators, hardly anyone spoke.
I stood among the crowd, one of many taking photos. It felt completely bizarre to be standing so near a sight of chaos and tragedy and not doing anything to help -- or even attempt to help. But, there truly was nothing to be done. I took pictures and thought of the families that were probably waking up to the worst day of their lives.
But, I think God may have wanted to change the subject, as he threw an odd little splash of comedy into the scene shortly thereafter. I had walked a little ways from the crowd, heading toward my car when a young man walked up to me. He asked me if I was with a news crew, and I said I wasn't, but he stayed and started chatting with me. He asked me what I knew about the fire (which was nothing) and then he told me what he knew (which I think he might have made up). I was still taking pictures and I decided to move to another area to try to get a different angle.
After a couple of minutes, I saw the same young man walking my way again. Again, he struck up a conversation. He told me that he went by Zigi (which, if you can imagine, sent up a tiny red flag). He wasn't at all creepy, but I wasn't at all interested. He persisted in making conversation. Then he said, "So, what do you have going on after this?" Now, to me that just seemed like a funny question, considering the situation, but for once in my life I was glad I worked the night shift....It meant I could truly and honestly say I was going home to sleep after a very long day.
But our friend Zigi, he did not give up. He asked when would be a good time to reach me. And I sort of lied. Okay, I really lied. I told him I was moving over the weekend ("Up North," I said). And he asked if I needed help moving. And I said that my dad was coming with him truck and we were going to get everything in one trip.
Finally, (and you have to give him credit for sticking to his guns) Zigi said, "I'll be honest. I'm trying to get with you."
To make a long story short, he gave me his number and asked me to call. And do you think I will? I'll let you decide....