What is wealth? This question was asked to me by my professor in my sociology class earlier this afternoon. The class discussed how wealth is money that we accumulate and the material goods we own as individuals. If someone says that they have good wealth, we perceive that as a person saying that they have a substantial amount of money. After the lecture I did not put much more thought into “wealth” until I was sitting at Espresso Royale that night.
So I have a HUGE homework assignment due tomorrow morning for my Statistics class on a Friday (if that is not cruel and unusual punishment I do not know what is), so me and a girl in my class decided to meet up at 9pm and complete it together. She had an exam till 9pm, so I decided I would go early and begin studying for exams I have next week, but I would soon get a bigger lesson than one in any of my textbooks or lectures.
As I sat sipping my Spanish Latte (HOLY YUM BTW) and reading over my Biology notes a group of men who were clearly homeless sat at the group of lounge chairs in front of me. I judged them immediately and subconsciously. Their clothes were dirty, they smelt like cigarettes, and were eating Tostito Cheese Dip from a jar. Not even with a spoon, but with a knife #zerofucksgiven.
I continued reading and making notecards when there was a break in my Pandora radio so I hit mute. The next words left me in awe when a man with the voice of Morgan Freeman (low and raspy) said,
“Every time you BREATHE life changes.”
HOLY SHIT. This man made my brain stop from going 100mph for this first time in a long time. My brain was analyzing this sentence, while apparently my gaze was in shock. Cause he goes, “Are you OK?”
I was so embarrassed. He was probably thinking, “This damn rich white girl be judging me, ain’t nobody got time for white girls.” My face turned pink and I replied, “I’m sorry I just over heard what you said and I could not agree more.” He smiled with his whole face, his expression made you want to be as happy, and he swung his chair around and taught me more in 60mins at a coffee shop about life than I have learned in my 20yrs on earth.
I found out that his name was Robert, but his street name was Zeek. Robert was a war veteran who fought in the Vietnam war and was a drill sergeant. He joked that he still uses his methods with his friends on the streets. He is a father of 3 and has 8 grandchildren, whom he has all their pictures in his wallet which only contained a used bus ticket and 5 dollars. He lived in Compton, New York, Lansing, and Vietnam to name a few… but his heart is in North Carolina with the woman “He will always love.”
Robert sang for me in front of everyone at the coffee shop, everyone starred but I did not care. He sang with passion so deep in his soul that I FELT what he was feeling. “Be you!” he told me, “who cared what anyone else thinks about you, cause at the end of the night, no matter who the hell is sleeping next to you, you are the one that matters. You, yourself, are the only one that YOU will have in YOUR mind.” I had no idea if Robert was high or what, but holy crap this guy was like a walking quote book!
Before he left the coffee shop to leave me to studying he told me,
“Everyone has a story, it’s what you do with your own story that is the true magic.”
Tears filled my eyes and he gave me a hug, his odor was not pleasant but his heart was. Robert gave me a lesson tonight that I will never forget, and as he walked away with “nothing” I knew he was actually walking with everything.
Thank you Robert, see you around.