A Young Girl’s Perspective on the Holton Gas Station

by Tanya Cromartie-Twaddle

On any other evening, you might find Erica kickin’ it on the steps in front of her house with her friends. But today the 14-year-old sat down for a serious discussion concerning her feelings on the gas station at the corner of Holton and Burleigh. “I only go over there if I have to. I don’t like going over there.” Erica lives just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the busy intersection. She is aware of her neighbors’ desires to see the curb appeal improved, loitering eliminated, and the store opened up to allow customers to conduct business inside. Her friends do not hang out at the spot, but she does know youth are constantly attracted to, as she puts it, “the confusion.” “When I do go over there I see drug dealers and guys just hanging around. The guy in the window is slow (service) and people are always cussing him out,” she says. Frowning, the ninth grader expresses the aggravation she feels when strangers approach her. She tells a story of a “grown man” asking her to “go home with him and another begging for money” while she waited outside in line to make a purchase. Why does she have to put up with this? She doesn’t! Erica chooses to shop for her snacks at Love’s across the street from the station. Why? “I feel safer. Not too many people hanging around. Less confusion. It seems friendlier to me.” Most of Erica’s friends are not allowed to go to the gas station and she understands why. According to Erica, the police could do more to make the situation better. “But if they do try to make it better, it probably won’t last long. People will still keep messing it up.” What do you think? Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 2 – March 2002