He asked, smiling, “Is there a neighborhood around here?”
The first intelligent thing I said in response (after looking blank) was, “What are you looking for?” (I had to ask twice; his first response wasn’t informative.) He explained (finally) they had an hour to kill, I’m sure before an Aladdin Theater show, and were looking for shops to explore. That’s what they were looking for: shops and sights. I explained that the shops aren’t really clustered like that until the Sellwood neighborhood, about a mile-and-a-half south of where we were standing, “and that’s outside the range you’d want to go.” He asked what was north of there, but you have to go a while before you get to that, too. So I couldn’t help them. Maybe I should’ve directed them to Division, but I didn’t want to direct them north of the train tracks, because with my luck a freight train would be going past when they needed to get back across to the Aladdin.
And it is a kind of odd neighborhood where I live: narrow (hemmed in by McLaughlin Blvd. and the river on the west and the Brooklyn Rail Yard on the east) and a mix of residential and industrial buildings. So we don’t really have what they were looking for. Still, odd encounter and odd question.