YOU People

What type of people are you? Are you downtown people? Redlands people? Near-the-North-desert people? Perhaps where you live you’d be uptown people, south side of the tracks people, or people from The Hills. Me? I’m Orchard Mesa people. If you’re not familiar with my community, you can think of me as Across the River people. Maybe you’ve never considered what type of people you are. Not quite in this sense, anyway, right? I hadn’t. Until last night.

I live just over the Fifth Street Bridge in Orchard Mesa. It’s an older neighborhood, quiet, simple. There are no sidewalks on the side streets and not many businesses, so it has a bit of a country feel to it. It’s a little run down, quirky. But it’s peaceful.

One of the things I like is seeing the Colorado River on a daily basis, walking and driving over the bridge and walking along the river path. The river is fascinating in the spring when it’s running strong and full, fueled by mountain runoff,  devouring the land that typically defines its normal path, visibly cresting from its power within.

Two evenings ago, Jim and I were driving over the bridge to my house and decided to try to get a better view of the confluence and the rapids that always form in that area in the month of May. I suggested we turn into Hilltop Liquors (now out of business) and drive behind the building. There is a good view of the Gunnison River there. But you can’t see the Colorado River all that well and it’s the Colorado that’s running wild right now, especially where it converges with the Gunnison. You need to drive north a little to get a better look at the Big C.

So that’s what we did. We drove north, back behind some other buildings that are up on the hill, not far, maybe a hundred yards. It’s basically a large gravelly area with worn out weeds and a few small structures. They may be homes or possibly storage or old business buildings. I’ve never really taken note and I wasn’t then. I had my eye on the rivers, the confluence.

Jim had his eye on a man walking toward us, a man with a beer bottle in one hand and a chihuahua on a chain in the other.

Neither of us had seen the NO TRESPASSING signs. I was checking out the river, the rapids. Jim was seeing the anger on the man’s face and in the way he strode toward us.

I stopped and got out to take a closer look. Jim kept his eye on the guy and said, “Where are you going? Get back in here.”

I took only a few steps when I saw the sign, a big sign that said PRIVATE PROPERTY. So I turned and got back into my vehicle.

I’m respectful. I’m not going to intentionally trespass on someone else’s property if I’m not welcome. And I know that whomever owns that property back there has had plenty of trespassers in the past, plenty of vagrants wanting to get to The Point, hoping to set up a temporary home on the picturesque slice of pie between the rivers at the confluence. But that was a few years ago. That area has been closed off for a while now.

As I hopped back in, I saw him. He was approaching our vehicle and he looked none too friendly.

You people!” he yelled at us. “Go back to the Redlands.”

“Calm down, man,” Jim said. “We’re not doing anything. We were just going to look at the river.”

“Go to the Redlands! Right over there!” He nodded to the bluffs on the other side of the Gunnison. “Go park in their driveways and look at the river. See if they like it. Can’t you read? It says no trespassing!”

“I’m sorry,” I yelled past Jim and out the passenger side window. “I see this big PRIVATE PROPERTY sign, but I didn’t see any others. I guess I was just looking at the river.”

It was true. I wouldn’t have driven past the liquor store if I realized it was posted no trespassing.

It didn’t matter though. What I said–my explanation, my apology–made no difference at all to this man.

“You people disgust me, you make me sick,” he continued. By now I had started driving. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, if he was going to continue approaching us. So I circled wide around him and headed back from where we had come.

“Yeah, that’s right, you people! You go back to the Redlands!” he shouted behind us.

When we were safely out of there, Jim said, “That was weird. That really creeped me out.”

“Why?” I asked. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“Yes it was. What was all that ‘you people’ about? ‘Go back to the Redlands?'”

“Yeah, you’re right, that was weird. Why would he think we’re from the Redlands? Are Redlands people more inclined to look at the river? To trespass? I felt like telling him, ‘Hey buddy, I live on Orchard Mesa. Same as you.'”

It concerns me that people think–not to mention speak out loud–like that, in blanket, ignorant generalizations. When he said ‘you people’–meaning you people who live in the Redlands–he was referring to thousands. What could those thousands of people possibly have in common, other than living in the Redlands? And if there is a commonality, how was he seeing it in us? The Redlands is generally thought of as an affluent area in our community, with many beautiful homes that sit along the base of the Colorado National Monument, but in truth there are all sorts of homes and all sorts of people who live out there.

Just as there are on Orchard Mesa, or in any other area of our town. Or your town.

If I didn’t live in Orchard Mesa, myself, I suppose I could shake my head at the guy and think along the lines of, oh, he’s just an Orchard Mesa hillbilly.

But that doesn’t work for me. That’s the beauty of our neighborhood, my community, the world. There are all sorts of people to be found everywhere. And we’re all different.

And there is much to be learned from all people, from any one person. And that holds true for this guy, too. I understand that he was angry at me for being on his property and he had every right to be, but did he handle it well? Was it really me who made him angry or was he angry long before we showed up?

Unbeknownst to him, he is the subject of my blog, and his thinking, his attitudes, his behavior, can teach us.

What do you take away from him?

By the way, the next evening we went to look at the river again, this time by the Blue Heron area. You know, over by the Redlands.

 

Somewhere under there is the beach where we land our kayaks.

Somewhere under there is the beach where we land our kayaks.

This is/was the boat ramp.

This is/was the boat ramp.

Jim watches the river. A few years ago, the river flooded and came up above this overlook.

Jim watches the river. A few years ago, the river flooded and came up above this overlook.

 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deborah
    May 31, 2014 @ 22:14:01

    What I take is that some people have small minds and tend to blame all their “perceived problems” on others. Better if the “others” can be lumped together in a group. Unfortunately, that’s the way our brains work, and most of us don’t challenge the automatic categorizing thing. As a result, so many assumptions are made, so many opportunities are lost, and lots of bad feelings have a chance to sprout.

    Everyone makes mistakes. People get so caught up in seeing the convergence that they miss the “no trespassing” signs. Our brains can’t possibly process all the sensory input. Too bad some people can’t be a little more understanding and less judgmental.

    Reply

    • randee
      May 31, 2014 @ 23:19:40

      Great summary there, Deb! I know I’ve made that mistake – lumping people together, categorizing. I can’t think of a particular instance, but like you allude to, it’s human nature. I suppose that’s why I write about this guy – to remind myself not to do that. Ever.

      Reply

    • randee
      May 31, 2014 @ 23:21:50

      And… good to hear from you. I was thinking about you earlier, wondering if you’ve been writing. Maybe I’ve just missed your posts?

      Reply

  2. farfetchedfriends
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 15:28:19

    Thank goodness nothing worse happened! I’m glad you still got to see the river, too.

    Reply

    • randee
      Jun 02, 2014 @ 19:07:44

      I never felt too threatened since we were in a vehicle and he was not. But, yes, you never know what might happen when someone is angry.

      Reply

  3. sf
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 15:51:07

    Great pics! Wow, scary fella, that guy. So glad to read that you and Jim weren’t and angry yourselves by that guy’s outburst and wrong belief that you both were from the Redlands. Yipes, I’d freak out if I saw him. Funny that he was holding a chihuahua on a chain, though. Good for your both for being such good folks and not taking offense to that guy’s yellin’ and all. I sure as heck, dunno how I would’ve reacted. So tough to have experiences like that. You’ve encouraged me to write about a car accident I had last week. It was lousy, in that the other driver wrote down an incorrect phone number. Basically, she didn’t wanna pay for the damage she had done. It was like a movie scene, cuz she claimed to be a lawyer. The experience made me so upset, that I just couldn’t write about it. But you’ve encouraged me to look beyond the hurt and to feel sorry for the woman herself (like this outburstin’ fella you’ve written about). Thanks for sharing this story and that river sure does look lovely and peaceful.

    Reply

    • randee
      Jun 04, 2014 @ 11:35:39

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad the post inspired you to write about your car accident. That sounds like a bad situation that would make me angry, too. Writing about it should help, don’t you think? What else are you going to do with an angry guy like the one in my story? I didn’t want to engage with him and luckily Jim is not the type to, either. Plus, we were trespassing, after all. I credit Jim for the “chihuahua on a chain” detail. He noticed it and told me about it and I really think it symbolizes what a coward this guy was. Makes me chuckle thinking about it. Thanks for reading. I’ll watch for your “insurance fraud” story.

      Reply

  4. betunada
    Jun 04, 2014 @ 15:32:57

    as a “fellow” 81503 person … remember when “the redlands” insisted on it’s own ZIP so it wouldn’t be cornfused with the “poor part of 81503″?
    we’re not supposed to comment and say “come over and read MY BLOG, but … this is somewhat coincidental — didja read my “perils of feline arboreal extraction”? the angy fellow was brandishing a gun, not a chihuahua!
    heh,

    Reply

    • randee
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 12:32:53

      Yes, I do remember the 81503/81507 battle. The Redlanders did not want to be confused with the OMers. No, I did not read that post of yours, but I will, especially if you give me a LINK. Ball’s in your court…

      Reply

  5. betunada
    Jun 05, 2014 @ 14:38:56

    i’ll try to “link” but it’s the last one before the 7 WreekaCoasta ones

    https://betunada.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3581

    i think.

    Reply

    • randee
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 16:01:41

      Ah, you linked me to your dashboard and I was promptly denied access. I’ll give you one more try. Go to the post, click on it so it opens, look in the URL address bar to make sure the title of the post appears there, then copy that address onto here. It should work. If not, let me know and I’ll look for it.

      Reply

    • randee
      Jun 05, 2014 @ 16:02:02

      In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of comments on my post. :)

      Reply

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