While I was finishing up my undergrad, I decided to take the train to school. It was cheaper than paying for a parking pass. I can’t remember if it was $400 a semester or a year, but either way it was too much money for me. Besides, the train let me off a block away from campus, and I loved walking. Camden sidewalks aren’t conducive for stilettos, so I just put them in the book bag for when I went to work.
In case you weren’t aware, I received my BA in English at Rutgers. Trust me, I am not saying this to brag. I am saying this because my books that were in the book bag consisted of mostly literature anthologies that were easily five to seven pounds. So on any given school day, I had about fifteen to twenty eight pounds on my back. And while I was waiting for my breakfast at the food truck, I let my bag fall to the sidewalk with a thud. This caught the attention of two of the locals.
The first guy was short and really skinny. By his clothing he was either a “user” homeless or both. I came to find out later his name was Winnie. The other guy was dressed better and was well kept. And God forgive me, but I do not remember his name, so I will call him Gus.
Gus was obnoxious to the people on the street. He would speak, almost, yelling at them as if he knew who they were. I found out later Gus had no idea who they were.
Back to the thud of my book bag. Both Winnie and Gus were in awe of the thud it made, and as I were reaching into my back pocket to pay for my breakfast, Winnie tried to pick it up.
Damn Sis, you gotta dead body in there? Gus you try this shit?
I smiled, and that’s when Gus showed off his man strength.
Nah, she just one of dem real smart chicks.
Then he started walking down the block with my bag with Winnie jogging behind him. I started jogging as well.
“Hey, I got it Gus!!” I said a little panicked. I mean he just walked off with hundreds of dollars of books not to mention all my notes. But Gus whipped around sharply, “What building is your first class?”
“Oh no, you don’t…”
“The hell I don’t. My Mom Mom would smack the shit outta me if I let you carry this big ass boulder every day.”
“But I don’t have any mon…”
“Don’t insult me by offering me money. I know we in Camden and all, but there are still kind people here.”
As we reached the front of the building, Gus put my bag down, but Winnie was nowhere to be found. I looked around for him.
“Winnie will be back later. Always is. But one day, Ima buy you somma dem gladiator sandals that tie around your calves. Cuz I know they thick” He said winking at me, “and then I’ll take you to get some seafood when you graduate.”
I smiled and picked up my bag, and gave Gus a hug.
“Thank you Gus.”
“Thank me by learnin sumthin, Sis. See ya tomorrow.”
I saw my buddies every morning until my last semester of school. I found out later from the food truck cook that Winnie was hit by a cab, and Gus got arrested for vagrancy. I never saw them again, but they were good people.
Photo Credit: http://www.newsworks.org
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