A late night trip to a check cashing joint in Gary on new Years Eve 1986 is why I started carrying a gun! Gary was the "murder capital of the USA". At the time I lived in Hammond and worked at a truck stop in St John. The place in Hammond was actually a fairly safe neighborhood, it was across the street from a large church and they had private security patrolling outside 24/7 so we kinda got a "DMZ" of a few blocks around the place.
Boss at the truck stop also had a small trucking company and as usual the fuel card account ran dry, stranding one of his guys somewhere. Only way to send cash on New Years Eve late was Western Union but our truck stop only received funds, couldn't send. Only place open within 50 miles was a check cashing business in Gary. Got there after 11, they were closing at midnite. I had several hundred bucks I had taken from the register receipts to send the guy per the Boss' instructions and was nervous about that until I saw the place. Then I got really paranoid, which to this day I maintain was a healthy state of mind that night! Next to the place I was going was the Badlands Tattoo Parlor that looked like they catered to outlaw motorcycle gangs from the artwork displayed in the windows, and next to it was a recovering alcoholics mission. Down the street was what appeared to be a street gang sitting on the hoods of several parked cars. Reminded me of that scene in Death Wish II where Kersey rents a room for his "base of operations" but less populated and seedier.
The check cashing place also inspired confidence it was a "good neighborhood", they had to buzz you in and once inside you had to deal with the clerk through a 6 inch thick bulletproof screen with a dollar bill sized slot in it. I was somewhat relieved once "safe" inside but then realized it was a check cashing place, most people didn't give them cash like I was doing, they received cash and left with it! If someone was going to rob you it would be when you left!
Finished sending the cash and left, to my great relief the gang had moved on and I was alone. Got back in my car and broke a few traffic laws for a few blocks. Started handgun shopping that next Friday!
Gary sucked back then and from what I gather it sucks even worse now. The murder rate is down a bit, likely due to a lot of the population heading for greener pastures like Oakland or Detroit...
Thanks for the neat story. Nothing like old urban neighbor hoods in the Commocrat run down cities! Growing up in good old Philly, PA definitely helped install a fondness for firearms in me too, yukedy, yuk!