Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thought Picnic: The missing black guy from Old Trafford is not me

Out in a cab
This afternoon, I went to visit a friend in the Manchester suburb of Urmston and since I was not very aware of where to go, I decided to take a taxi for the just about 7 mile journey.
Annoyingly, the cab driver being aware that it was a Manchester United match day at Old Trafford, he took no diversions and simply drove into the traffic, that added about 15 more minutes to the trip. The whole reason for calling a cab is for these drivers to use their knowledge to get you to your destination in the shortest possible time.
If for any reason the shortest route would present problems, it is only right to intimate their customer with the possible alternatives. I was quite piqued when I asked why he decided to drive into the traffic when he had other alternatives – that was his tip gone.
Walking for health
After leaving my friend’s place, I decided it was a good opportunity to walk back home, the estimated distance being just about 6.8 miles. However, I also decided to take a detour to the Trafford Centre, an out-of-town shopping precinct with a misplaced SeaWorld centre within the shopping mall.
Whilst, I am not averse to visiting zoos, to site an artificial sea environment well away from the sea to house exotic creatures is just beyond the pale and despite my fascination about sea life, I would not give custom to such places. I probably should extend that sentiment to zoos too.
At the same time, I expected to find a honey drizzler in one of the shops, considering I had been into so many shops in Manchester looking for the thing which I eventually found in a Marks and Spencer shop.
We are not the same
Then I continued my walk back home, the detour having added another mile to my journey, I began in earnest.
Just about a mile before Old Trafford, a police car drove by and stopped me for what turned out to be a missing person’s questioning. Apparently, a 24-year old had gone to the Manchester United match that afternoon and was now missing.
Whether by coincidence or crass myopia of some Caucasians who think all black people look the same, I give the policeman some benefit of the doubt. He asked for some identification which I did not have before asking for my name, date of birth and address even though it was obvious I was not the person they were looking for.
I am walking home for exercise, I was not at the Manchester United match, I do not own a club scarf and it is not in my bag, I was not on the grounds – those were some of the answers I had to give, as he needed more to convince him that he should be looking for someone else.
I made the point of recording the car registration number of the policeman and tweeting it with the location information as part of the tweet.
The aspect of identification is interesting because when I lived in the Netherlands there was a requirement to carry some identification with you and if you could not produce it when asked by the police, you were liable to a fine. Thankfully, we have not reached the stage of needing that in the UK.
The new missing is black
Probably another mile down the road as I passed by the Lancashire County Cricket Ground, also known as Old Trafford, a name shared with the Manchester United Football Club Stadium, though they are almost a mile apart, a lady drove into my pathway and immediately asked for my name. I cottoned on the fact that it was related to the missing person and remonstrated about being accosted twice in less than 30 minutes.
She gave a compliment to assuage my discomfiture by suggesting I do not by any stretch of the imagination look my age, but that did not lessen the annoyance that welled up in me. I was at the point where I was going to abandon my walk if anyone drove a third time to check if I was missing.
Maybe, just maybe
I cannot stop being black, it is who I am, but one wonders how much information they had to go on and if it was a distinguishing as to have drawn me into the purvey of being a person of interest. Was he bald too, wearing glasses, and did he had blue trainers on too? You can only wonder.
Yet, one must consider, if a 24-year old black guy in track apparel was declared missing in the space of 2 hours after a match, one can only assume the said person is not of an adult mental age. That is appeared to coincide with when I decide to walk in the Old Trafford area is both uncanny and somewhat unfortunate. C’est la vie.
I eventually got home having walked almost 17,000 steps and 11.61 kilometres. I wonder if I should choose where I walk carefully next time.

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