The Burgling Bicyclist Bum

After meeting at Perkins, we made our approach at about 10 PM. There were initially 9 of us. A large crowd for this kind of thing, but hey, it was Mouser Week (an annual gathering of local explorers). The entrance was opened up without difficulty, and Alex and I of us went in (we were entering in pairs).

We waited in the lighted vault room just beneath the surface for the next group (which should have come down in about a minute or so). Waited, waited.

Finally, I heard something, and went to warn whoever it was not to step backward to the initial ladder (into a 25 foot drop). It was a wild looking, heavily muscled, filthy, and tattooed man, looking like a movie ex-con, hunkered down over the manhole cover and peering intently in at us.

"What the fuck is this?" He was twisting his head and bobbing up and down in some central-nervous-system-damage-looking dance as he tried to see what was past the open manhole.

"We don't know. It was open so we went in."

"What are you stealing?"

I was nervous. Was this guy going to call the cops? Was he a cop? I had not had time to really process the way he looked yet, so this did not seem implausible at that point.

"Umm. Well, there's really nothing down here but power lines."

"What the fuck." Pause, as he noticed the shaft behind me. "Whoa! How fucking far does that go down?"

He was referring to the ladder into a deep part of the system, but I wanted to minimize his interest if possible. Now I was mostly worried that he would try to come with us.

"Looks like about 30 feet, then it dead ends."

He gyrated some more, considering.

"Well, fuck this city shit, man. I'm gonna go rob some houses."

He wasn't kidding. After a final twisting ogle into the manhole, he straightened up and vanished from view. After a minute or so, I went up the ladder to ensure that he was gone and to fill the others in, who had seen him standing there but not heard any of it from their distant waiting point. We last saw our frightening friend on a ten speed bike, wobbling his way toward the upper financial stratum of Saint Paul's residential areas.

We decided that the likelihood of him alerting authorities was very low, so we got in, got going, and got down to several hours of serious exploration.