At the halfway point of my jog I ran past an attractive, young lady crouched on the ground with the contents of her purse spread out on the sidewalk, slowly putting them back into her bag. I stopped and asked if she was okay; she was dressed up in all black as if to go on a night on the town and looked as though she had had a bit to drink and a little something else. (At one point, she even pulled a small airline-sized bottle of Jack out of her bag and asked me to open it for her.) She said no and then asked if she could go running with me. I said sure, but probably not in those heels, to which she replied by promptly taking them off.
I asked again if she was okay and if she lived nearby or if I could help her get home. She again said no, that she was from Florida and had nowhere to go. Now, as this line of semi-coherent conversation was going on, she finished up putting her things in her bag and then began taking off the rest of her clothes. I gently suggested she didn't need to undress, but she ignored me, slipped off her black jeans, pulled her top off, gathered her belongings, and, in her matching blue panties and bra, started off jogging, at a surprisingly fast clip. I ran alongside.
People along the promenade stared and some made catcalls and comments. I continued trying to convince her to put her clothes back on and see if there was anyone in the city that she knew that we could contact, someplace she could stay. She wasn't particularly responsive. She seemed really intent on running, actually. And trying to keep her bra up. Unsuccessfully.
In short order the realities of jogging in underwear, bare feet and intoxicated caught up to her and she slowed to a stroll. She handed things for me to hold, some cash and some pills ("Xanax," she told me) while she re-arranged herself, but refused to get dressed again. She felt "more comfortable" that way.
A group of four motorcyclists and a car full of guys pulled up and immediately began cat calling to her. She told them she was looking for someone to give her a motorcycle ride. Emboldened, they shouted for her to join them, to jump in the car. She started to, then turned to me and asked if it was a good idea. I said I didn't think so. She then asked, "Are you going to let me sleep at your place tonight?"
At this point I hesitated. I have roommates and bringing a complete stranger, both intoxicated and probably high, into our household would be, in my mind, a violation of their safety and security, not to mention mine. I began to say this to her, to which she simply turned and hopped into the car, and the guys drove off with her, hooting and hollering, into the night.
So... utter failure on my part. I shouldn't have hesitated. I should have just said yes. I should have brought her back here, let her sober up and just stayed awake until she slept it off and was ready to find her way to her people or back home. Now this girl is possibly in danger and I had a chance to help her steer clear of that.
I'm not sorry I considered my roommates. And I realize she made choices to get herself into that situation. But I am disappointed in myself that I didn't think more quickly on my feet to come up with a safe solution for myself, the people I know and for this stranger who was balanced on the precipice. All I can do is say to myself, "Next time... be better."
It's not much consolation.