I used to always cut through the Haas School of Business at the end of the Berkeley campus every night on the way to my campsite in the Berkeley hills. It was usually well past midnight, so the place was usually deserted. They often had these catered events during the day, so the garbage cans were often full of great food. So I’d always make a quick round, and hit all the cans, looking for leftover food for my feral cats. I was spending 50 to 100 bucks a month on cat food. So, to defray some of the costs, I’d feed my feral cats lots of human food, too. And they preferred the human food to the cat food. So it was a win-win situation. (One time I went through a 6-month period where I fed them nothing but human food. When I finally switched back to cat food, they wouldn’t eat it at first. Turned their noses up at it. Gave me a look like: “What the fuck is this shit, dude? Cat food??! Go out and get us some real food. NOW!!” Cats. Ha ha.)
So anyways, this one night I’m up there at this sort of outdoor mall area at Haas, and I’m scrounging around in the garbage cans. When suddenly this guy pops his head out of one of the doors. It’s the young black guy who was working as the late-night security guard. He calls out to me: “Psst. Hey you. Dude. Come over here!”
I thought: “Oh fuck. Busted. He’s gonna’ kick me out and tell me I can’t come through here any more.”
Instead he says: “Hey. I got something for you.” And he hands me 10 beef and chicken burritos, still wrapped in the tin foil. And three 2-liter bottles of soda.
“Oh man, thanks!” I said.
We high-fived and I went on my merry way. My cats were going to eat good that night. And me, too.
Evidently, the black dude, the security guard working at the Haas School of Business, had been doing the same basic thing I was doing. Grabbing the leftover food after the catered events and taking it home for his family and friends. And I guess this night he had a little extra, so he slung some of it my ways. Or maybe it was because he sees this pathetic homeless guy rooting around in the garbage cans and feels pity or empathy or whatever you call it.
But from that point on, he would lay a little food on me on a semi-regular basis whenever he spotted me coming through the Haas School of Business. And I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do. Because he didn’t have to do it, but he did it anyways. And face it. There’s not a lot of love lost between black guys towards white guys these days. In fact, there’s a fair amount of hostility and resentment. So it felt like some kind of little victory, or something.
I thought it was pretty darn cool that he would go out of his way to give me a little helping hand. I don’t want to make out like it was a big deal or anything. Like we’re all sitting around holding hands and singing “kum ba ya” together. But it was kind of special to me. I still remember it.