Tamala Motown, Motor City, Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Ford. I’m heading to Detroit and I couldn’t be more excited.
We’d crossed from Canada into The U.S.
and had a longish drive, but I was looking forward to it. Aretha Franklin was strutting her stuff on the car radio, I had all manner of Motown songs going in my head, Detroit had always been a dream, both because of the music and the cars.
We started to reach the outskirts of the city, (city limits as this is a post about the U.S. I suppose). I was looking forward to a couple of days here, exploring and seeing the sites and the skyline.
This is what I was expecting to see.
What I actually saw though was something slightly less inviting.
The place was derelict, resembling very much an army training village used for urban warfare, rather than a place where real people lived.
The desolation was everywhere. We saw very few people, almost all that we did see were women, in very skimpy clothing, the day was cold but dry, all we saw was emptiness.
There were the cars that I’d been expecting to see, all driven by young men who seemed to be surveying the scantily clad females that stood around on the sides of the roads, and all of them staring at our two cars, brand new in the neighbourhood.
We quickly realised we weren’t in the nicest part of town, but never having visited before we thought it would be a good idea to stop and buy a street map, to get to a better area.
We pulled into the first garage we saw. The pumps were dark, the area was full of the above mentioned cars, all driving very slowly by, seeing what we were up to.
A quick look round showed the “shop” to be a small rectangular cabin, completely covered in steel and each tiny bullet proof glass window also covered with a metal grill, the metal at least an inch thick. It seemed to be relatively efficient.
Two of us got out of the cars and walked across, to try and buy a map. As I bent down to speak through the tiny pigeon hole, I saw the face of an elderly (although age was difficult to ascertain) wizened black gentleman staring back at me, with eyes wider than Cardigan Bay. He was clearly stunned to see white people in this area.
So shocked in fact that the first words that left his mouth were, and I quote verbatim, “What the f*** are you doing here white boy?”
Us two white boys looked at each other, looked around at the rapidly increasing number of pimpmobiles circling the garage and said, almost as one,
“We’re just leaving.”
Straight back into the cars, out of the neighbourhood and headed straight to Chicago.
From city limit to city limit would have taken no more than two hours, and I can honestly say it wasn’t the most comfortable two hours I’ve ever spent.