“Hey my name is Berry and it’s dayum hot out here and if you waitin’ on th’ bus I’ll gi’ y’ a ride home.”
The first thing I saw was his hand stuck out for a shake and so I did and then looked up. He smiled and I could see the big white smile but the sun was in my eyes so he was not very clear. He had a nice tone of voice and did not seem at all threatening so I said,
“Yes and thank you my name is Mary. It IS hot out here!”
“Yeah no kiddin’ it’s hot ’nuff t’ fry aigs on the sidewalk! Hahaha yo’ name rhyme wit mine. Here lemme git dat!”
He took the walker and I followed him a few steps into the parking lot behind the bus stop. Now that the sun was to my back I could see him better. Prison-grey pants, dropped a little, a really OLD FUBU shirt and very neat and orderly corn-row braids. As he opened the sliding side door of some kind of old, beat up van/SUV combo it became apparent he might be homeless. His car was full of stuff people needed to live. He put my walker with all my money and stuff in it on top of all the stuff already in it and turned around.
I felt the moment.
To back out now because he was an obvious gangsta would be extraordinarily rude and even if he was a nice guy about it people would remember and the route I travel takes me through homeless territory every day. He seemed OK. How bad could he be?
He opened the passenger door and I got in and we started talking. No doubt there were cultural differences but we did not seem to have a problem with them.
“What made you feel like a good deed today?” I asked him.
“You be lookin’ like my ex-girlfrien’.” He said and then laughed.
“How old was your ex goof! I am 51 and have a walker!”
“Well you doan look like no 51 an’ anyway people ’round here doan care ’bout age.”
I watched his face as he drove. I noticed the tear drops tattooed under his eye when he glanced over to speak to me.
“Who was it that died?
“What dis? How you know what dis mean? You doan talk like people from here! Where you from girl?”
“I was born in Texas.” I smiled.
“Fo’ sho? You soun’ like you from overseas!”
“I really was born in Texas. Who was it that died?”
The smile faded from his face.
“Two my cousins. Gang fights. I like Oklahoma it peaceful an’ all but I am from Cali’ you know? L.A. Imma get all this,” he indicated the gang symbol tattoos, “…removed.”
“Leave the tears. They are a tribute.”
He gave me a weird look. Then the testing started. I am guessing it was testing because that’s what it felt like and then I realized I had already maybe passed one test and that maybe passing that test was better than people might think it was. I already knew I was the only person in my family who could maybe take and pass this kind of test.
“What yo’ number and where you live.”
I gave him the information and he started driving up Classen Blvd. A coupla times he seemed like he might be getting ready to pull over and I did not budge and he leaned back and looked thoughtful. We kept on talking.
“You know ’bout massage?”
“Yes I know about reflexology.”
“Lemme gi’ y’ a massage.”
“No that would go against my religion.”
“What’s yo’ religion?”
“I know me some Muslims. Why you ax’cep a ride from me?”
At this point I thought straight honesty would be the best answer so I shot it at him.
“You offered me a ride and I said yes. You were in the process of a good deed and if I said no in the middle of a good deed what would have happened?”
He looked at me astonished.
“I’m gonna pull over and get a Coke. You wanna Coke?”
I was thinking to myself, “Testing testing 1,2,3 testing.”
“No I don’t drink soda but you go get one I will wait.”
He went in and got a soda and came back out. “So you still here.”
“Yeah I am. I don’t think I can push that walker all the way home.”
“Yeah but you could call someone else.”
“Yeah I could call someone else…” so I got out my iPhone6 and called mom and put it on speaker phone, “Mom guess what! A nice kid is taking me home from the pool!” He was listening and trying not to look astonished again.
“That’s nice honey tell me when you get home!”
“Hey mom we are on speaker phone do you want to say hi to Barry?”
“Hi Barry thanks for helping out my daughter!”
“Hey s’all good I get her home safe doan you worry!”
I took it off speaker phone and mom was already scared but she said just call her when I got home and I promised her I would.
We kept up a steady chit chat about how people treat each other while he tried to get me to flirt and I resisted and when we got back to my house he said,
“You got my number. I wanna be your frien’. You ever have any trouble when you out just call me I come take care of it.”