It was not difficult to overhear her conversation. She was speaking, or should I say yelling, into the cellphone she had pressed to her ear as she leaned against the cement wall located at the drive-thru bank entrance.
"I just got here so f off," she yelled into the phone. As the conversation continued it was apparent she was speaking to her business partner, also referred to as her pimp. It was 12:30 in the afternoon on a sunny Friday. Her workday got off to a late start compared to the 9-to-5'ers heading out to lunch at that time.
She glared at me as I walked past, heading toward the Seven-11 for a midday Slurpee. She then commenced to "work" as she paced up and down the block.
Hookers are a regular part of Wheeling's downtown landscape despite the best efforts of our law enforcement. There are arguments that prostitution is a victimless crime between two consenting adults. Perhaps that's true but my beef is that one of them is getting paid without benefit of letting Uncle Sam know about it for tax purposes. And if the city of Wheeling enacts the user fee for everyone working in the city, let's hope it includes the streetwalkers who are making a living here, too. Fair is fair.
Walking on Market Street between 16th and 14th streets can be a real treat most days. Usually by noon and then into the evening, the sidewalks are peppered with assorted citizens sitting, standing, running or walking up and down. If you happen to slow your pace, as I did on my way to the store, you will most likely be asked if you can spare a dollar or two.
I quit smoking 30 years ago. I know how expensive cigarettes are these days, so the fact you have a smoke hanging from your mouth when you ask for a dollar irks me.
At least the hooker is attempting to pay her bills. These people bumming money obviously aren't as industrious.
The southern portion of Wheeling's downtown business district has many bright spots. West Virginia Northern Community College's reinvention of properties on Market Street has resulted in a beautiful transformation.
Clean, smart-looking buildings are part of the landscape. If you haven't visited the college bookstore and coffee shop at 16th and Market streets you are missing out. It's a great place to grab a sandwich or coffee and work on your laptop. There are even some tables outside where you can soak up the sun while enjoying your morning java or your lunch.
The new fencing at West Virginia Independence Hall on the opposite corner also has smartened up the look of the neighborhood. There is plenty of history in and outside those walls where West Virginia was born. It's a neat place, and every school child in West Virginia should have a chance to visit and experience that history.
Let's just hope that's the only lesson they learn when visiting the Friendly City.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.