My day began at 6:30 a.m. I had no idea it would start like an 1980s action movie.
The train bound for Chicago idled on the tracks outside of Union Station in Kansas City. I'd decided to park nearby and ride my refurbished Felt bicycle the rest of the way. There is a crosswalk that connects Union Station to the Freight District near Baltimore Street. Instead of entering the train station from the main entrance on Pershing, I tried a route that I wasn't too familiar with. I damn near miss the train.
What ensued would be outright hilarity if I didn't almost end up in custody for trespassing on federal property. There are much more serious things for security to worry about than some random, bike-riding dude with a backpack pushing through restricted areas and setting off alarms, I thought. Boy, was I wrong.
I was pressed for time. Minutes remained to check in. It wasn't going to happen if the private security guy hell bent on protecting federal land had anything to do with it.
He was a young dude that wore a fitted Titan Security shirt. His biceps and forearms bulged through the gray work shirt. He was armed, and spoke into a walkie. The young man seemed to be very good at his job. It was evident that he took his responsibilities very seriously.
"Sir, this is a restricted area," he told me after I tossed my bike over the fence. I finished my leap to the other side which would put me in front of the Southwest Chief Amtrak. The fact I almost tilted over the fence and onto my face was lost after I stuck the landing. The security guard was not impressed.
"You are trespassing on federal property," he continued. The only thing that separated us was a fence.
I'd jumped the gate with my bike after going out of a back door at Union Station... alarm went off... private security was chasing me down and the train was pulling off. Trespassing on FEDERAL PROPERTY! I'm going to jail, I thought.
"I didn't know, man," I said. I continued to walk with my bike toward the awaiting train. An all-purpose backpack draped from my shoulders. "My bad."
"Are you getting on the train?" the security guard said. He then spoke into his walkie.
"Yes," I replied.
"You can’t come this way," he said. "You went through a restricted area and you are trespassing on federal property."
"I didn't know," I said again. This intense encounter lasted for about 20 seconds.
There is no way I am getting out of this, I thought. I'm going to miss the train and I am going to jail. There would be no 30-mile bike ride along Lake Michigan in Chicago. A Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley on Sunday? Forget about it. This security guard is dead ass serious. No way he is letting me out of this.
He let me go with a warning.
"Next time, go through the front entrance," he said. "This is federal property," he repeated for emphasis. "And you are trespassing."
And that is how my day began.