Please note: Names changed for privacy, at request of participants
Carissa commanded more attention than anyone else at the bus station. She spoke loudly and to anyone within earshot, gesticulating to the point of nearly falling off her seat. Although most people were avoiding her, and consequently having a considerable amount of space to herself, it seemed that her shouting was rooted in reason. When I approached her, she lowered her voice and became warmer and more responsive. She explained the root of her violent shouts: “I like to snitch on people who sell cigarettes and bus passes. I’m the best snitch around.”
What’s for dinner: “potato chips, juice, and cookies”
Quiet and perceptive, Charles started asking me questions before I had the chance to ask him one. He quickly sensed I wasn’t from the United States, and he guessed that my accent was British. His stillness seemed to be a function not only of his age but also of his comfort with downtown Detroit. He has been in the city for 59 years, but he was born in Southern Ohio. Charles was on his way to pick up a prescription. He told me that a lot has changed in the city, and that Detroit is “getting better.” Something about him felt regal, yet slightly too distant to access the root of his charm.
What’s for dinner: “chicken and potatoes”
Janet was quiet and removed, as if she was conserving her energy. She had a calm curiosity to her. She noticed me interviewing someone else, and it became obvious that she wanted to be interviewed too. She had been on her way home to relax and watch TV with her family. Without much prompting, she launched into a political discussion, extolling the virtues of President Donald Trump. “He’s going to put Governor Snyder in jail,” she told me with confidence. She unabashedly told me how excited she is for Trump to change the country.
What’s for dinner: “thinking about it”
Keenan and Derrick
I ran up to Keenan and Derrick as they were walking home from middle school and afternoon was becoming evening. Both 14 years old, they seemed hesitant to talk to me. Grudgingly, but respectfully, they let me interview them while I was stumbling backward as they walked forward. Derrick never really warmed up to me; however, Keenan let the slightest smile escape when I complimented him on his fashion. Derrick wants to go to a “good school,” and Keenan wants to play basketball for Duke. The two impressed me with their manners and tact.
What’s for dinner: “chicken nuggets”
Landon seemed like a thoroughly dependable human being. The way he spoke and stood made me feel like he could ‘make it anywhere.’ He arrived in Detroit just two weeks prior to start a full-time job in the metal industry. Chicago was his home before he moved to Detroit, and he appeared taken aback by the vast differences between the two places. Among his favorite things about Detroit is the “low cost of living.” He disappeared as soon as I said “thank you.”
What’s for dinner: “Chili’s”
An energetic and eccentric man, Marvin was thoroughly enthusiastic about talking to me. He seemed to enjoy our conversation, but there was a strange level of disconnect whereby neither of us fully understood each other. Even though we exchanged basic ideas, it didn’t feel like a language barrier. Marvin told me that he grew up in Detroit and works as a cook at a hotel on the riverfront. He was on his way home from a shopping trip. He also told me that he loves the people in this city, and he’s hopeful about “improvements to the buses.”
What’s for dinner: “I’m a bachelor so I don’t know”