Monday, August 4, 2008

Chale, I'm a hustla! I'm a, am a hustla!

It's a weekday in late July. I just have finished playing phenomenal football and I've gotten a text to help a friend move to a new place. I take a quick shower but have no time to eat before I join a ride with some other friends. Maybe the sight of a restaurant near to my friend's old place made me hungrier. I couldn't help but ask the workers at the restaurant (the back of the place was right next door to this apartment) to give me some food. I mean, they are closing down, there is bound to be some good food headed for the dustbin. Okay refuse heap, there is virtually no dust in the Bay Area. But pardon my African upbringing, we are used to dust.

This guy (I think he's a manager of some sorts) tells me they are closing down so I should go to the front of the restaurant and place an order. Would you do that? I wouldn't either. I left him alone and after carrying a couple more things downstairs into the U-haul, I see a sign on the U-haul van. It reads - "You can do it". Yes, I can. So I go and ask another worker for some food and he gives me a cold shoulder. One of my friends is wondering why am doing this in the first place. Anyway, for the third time, after moving almost all my friend's belongings into the truck, I approach the restaurant again. I see one of the workers cleaning up and he has a big burrito next to him. "Can I have the burrito? You can make one for yourself. I am hungry". The dude does not speak that much English. After trying to do some sign language, I end up convincing him to give me half of this big burrito. He goes into another room and I am thinking he's about to add some Mango Peach Snapple. He doesn't but the burrito makes up for the disappointment. My friend who has watched this whole episode transpire calls me a 'hustler'. I agree and am proud of this free food I have hustled for.

Fast forward to Sunday, which is like 8 hours ago. I am attending a Hugh Masekela concert in San Francisco. It's 5:20pm and I have to go and catch a train to the city at 5:31pm. Even if I biked faster than Lance Armstrong, I still wouldn't make it. The next train is at 6:31pm. I have called every friend available who could drop me off at the station but no one is picking up. I am not going to miss the train though because someone is going to give me a ride. I ask one person for a ride and he tells me he's not going in 'my direction'. I stand by the road and wave at passing cars and this girl finally stops. "Can I get a ride to the Caltrain station?" "I don't know the place and I don't give rides to strangers". "I can show you, it's not very far". The girl welcomes me in (into the car) and 5 minutes later and some interesting questions from this girl trying to figure out if am a Stanford student or a serial killer, am at the station. "Thank you very much I would get your number if I had some 30 seconds to spare".

I finally make it to the concert. I attended with a friend who lives right across from the venue. Hugh Masekela is quite funny, and he can still blow the trumpet pretty well. After the concert ends, it occurs to me that I should try and see if I could get a free ride back to Palo Alto. The journey is at least 50 minutes even if you drove as fast as Michael Schumacher. Sadly, the only people I know at this venue where I am trying to find a good Samaritan is my friend and Hugh Masekela who's going to playing the trumpet for another hour. I can catch a bus from the venue but I don't have the actual change. But as for the MIghTy African, he takes risks, chances; it's fun. My friend backs me anyway. The bus comes along and the driver is Habesha, ah, there's another African. He allows me onto the bus for free and we chat for the whole time I am on the bus. I impress him with a couple of Amharic words and learn a few more. The dude even offers to give me money for the train but this form of transport accepts plastic of which I have.

Once I get off the train, I find myself singing "I'm a hustla, am a, am a hustla. Chale, ask, Chale about me..... yea, hustling is cool. I was even called Hustler at some point, when I was in Presec. I had to have been hustling to earn such a title. I don't even know why I liked the song. I was in Rhode Island one day hanging with a cousin and some friends and they were playing some hip hop songs. For whatever reason, they were feeling this Cassidy so much, I also bought into the hype. Before I knew it I was singing - girl, if you wanna come to my hotel..... till six in the morning.

Anyway, in my book, I have hustled three times and have finished the story for my blog. People like us have the ability to hustle because others are good and do good deeds. But like the Dark Knight, there's not always a great ending. However, you can count those people on the ferry boats who did good; we have some good people in this world. I am still mad the Joker did not die. I finally make it to the Millbrae Caltrain station, and am about to begin the last lap of my journey back to my humble abode. I check the time, it's 9:51 pm and the next 'keteke' comes at 9:54pm. Buriful, I say. I wait a couple of minutes and some taxi driver comes off to tell me that the last 'keteke' left 30 minutes ago. Hustlers have time to verify information so I checked the schedule again and this driver is right. I am not going to take his taxi though, it's gonna cost me at least 10 bags of black eyed peas to take it.

I proceed to say the 'F' word repeatedly and as frequently as never before. Maybe I am thinking the 'F' word due to the number of times I have sung "I'm a hustla in the preceding hour". I just bought a $4 Caltrain ticket that I could not use, did not use, can not use but probably will use at some point, just bcuz I'm a hustla. Eventually, I discover that I can take a bus home and I proceed to wait for it. I really want to stand by the highway and stop some unsuspecting car to give me a free ride but I don't. I even pay for someone's bus fare when I see that he doesn't have the actual change. Sometimes hustlers refuse to take chances and just settle for other options, which is fine. The difference may be time. But time and time again, we hustle.

I don't know who your everyday hustla looks like, but appearances can be deceiving. And let's not get into the debate of who is a hustla and who is not. You've got to take some chances and risks, put yourself in a position to achieve something new even though there is the high likelihood of getting disappointed; just remember the good Samaritans of this world. Have a lil fun, why so serious anyway?
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