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The Day I Was Almost Brave

Updated: Apr 29

By Tom Ped

The other morning, I was jogging through Slabtown.  It was a beautiful Portland day. The sun was out after a long rainy spell.


It was the kind of day that causes us to live here all our lives, even if every winter I get sick of the clouds and want to move to Arizona.


As I turned a corner, I saw a man on the sidewalk ahead.  He did not look quite right.  His clothes were unkempt, but moreover he was looking around as if determining whether anyone was watching him.

Tom Ped is a local attorney and chair of our Homelessness Committee


He wasn’t doing anything beyond that, so I ran past him without incident.


As soon I as I got to the next corner, I heard a man shouting from across the street, “Hey, get away from there.  That’s a business!”


I turned around and saw the unkempt fellow doing something to the storefront of a liquor store.  I thought maybe he was trying to break the glass.  My car window got shattered once by someone pressing against it slowly with a flashlight.


Without thinking, I started running back toward him.  I immediately thought, “What am I doing?”  I am no first responder.  I have no training.  I had no plan whatsoever. 


I did not want to physically harm this individual.  I instinctively knew that was not my purpose, and anyway I would not do well in a fisticuffs.


I just knew I’m tired of ne’er-do-wells ruining Portland for the rest of us.


Quickly a couple things came to mind.  If there was an altercation between the unkempt individual and the man across the street, who was now moving toward him, I could be a witness.  I could also pop into a nearby business and ask them to call the police.


Such was my two-point plan.  Most plans have three points but I could not think of anything else in the time allotted.


Before the man across the street or I could reach the liquor store, the unkempt individual headed away from us toward the end of the block and disappeared around the corner.  By the time I got to the street corner, he was nowhere to be found.


When I got back to the liquor store, the other gentleman and I saw the man had placed a sticker on the window.  The message said something vulgar, I don’t remember what.  The other gentleman said it was a coded invitation for someone to damage the business property.


We removed the sticker and went our separate ways.


I was almost brave that day. 


I would not typically engage in any kind of direct action.  Normally I would turn away, but not that day.


I’m not special.  There are many accounts of Samaritans performing good deeds following troubling incidents in our town.


It’s because we want our city back.


Tom is an attorney with Williams-Kastner, a Revitalize Portland Boardmember & chair of our Homelessness Committee.







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