It was pitch black, a night without moon. The bus station was closing so a staff walked me down the paved path and showed me a waiting place with a dim light. I waited there alone for 20 long minutes, cursing the fact that I am the only passenger waiting for a night bus to Atlanta, until I saw another soul across the street on the bench under the streetlight. I decided that it was wise for me to join him, as I recognized him from the bus station just now, asking for a cellphone to call his family out of town.
I walked straight towards him and sat down right beside. We did not exchange a single words for some time. “Can I have a sip of that?” He first broke the silence pointing to my half-bottle of Dr. Pepper. “It had been years since I had one”, He continued. “You can have it all, ” I said, passing him the bottle. “Do you happen to have a cellphone? I need to call my family, they are supposed to be here for me 2 hours ago, I hope they are on their way.” He explained, he seemed distressed. I do have a cellphone, but unfortunately mine is without a sim.
We went silent again for quite awhile. “So, you’re from out of town?” I asked. He surprised me with his answer “I am going to be very honest with you. I was just release from jail earlier today. Juvenile. I was X years-old when i got in.” I was taken aback at that very moment, I did not know what to say next. However, he seems like a nice guy, so I just kept me cool, trying to keep the conversation flowing. “I do notice that you only have a small plastic bag, is that all you have? For how many years? ”
He proceeded to show me his small bag, with all the papers inside, to be exact, his drawings. He is obviously a very talented artist. I looked at his drawings, all very creative, with different angles and interesting dimensions, as if they have lives of their own. I looked him in the eye and gave him the most sincere compliment from the bottom of my heard. “Did anyone ever tell you that you are incredibly talented? You know, this is probably one of the most amazing pencil drawing I’ve seen.” He smiled, without saying anything. He told me how hard it will be for him to find a job now, due to his “history”… Honestly, this is the very first time I ever talked to an ex-prisoner, not to mention engaging in such a deep talk. I encouraged him to continue drawing, and make it a career one day.
We exchanged stories about our lives, passion, hobbies and finally he asked “Why are you a medical student if you said you have a passion for writing?” “Well, not everyone is lucky enough to turn their passion into a long term job. And in fact, saving lives is such an inspiring job, don’t you think so?” “ True, a doctor’s job is noble indeed, but it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your passion. You encouraged me to pursue mine and now I am returning a favor.” He laughed, “and you know what? Doctors save lives but a good pen saves souls. ”
“I will try….” I said as I caught a glimpse of my bus. “My bus is here! Finally!” I exclaimed. He took out a small piece of paper and pencil, “You must leave your contact!” I wrote down my Facebook name, asking him “do you have a Chinese friend before? ” “I do, ” he said “and am I your first African-american friend?” “Yes.” “I am flattered.”
I ran to my bus after wishing him all the best in life. I gave it a long thought on the bus. I thought about what Jodi told me last month too, and I decided to head their advice, to start writing again, and that’s the very reason I started blogging. This taught me a valuable lesson: Anyone can be your teacher, even the most unexpected person. An ex-prisoner, who would have thought! So why discriminate? Why the prejudice? I never heard from him ever since, probably because it is hard to search up someone on Facebook using only Facebook name, but I certainly won’t forget that night, when I took advice from a stranger, on the empty street of Athens after midnight.
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