What Spike Lee and I have in common: We Wuz Robbed.

I’ll admit it. I listen to Rod Stewart more than I should. In fact, today, on route to Boston for work-related interviews, I was humming along to “Some Guys Have All the Luck.” And at the point at which Mr. Stewart sings, And it seems so unfair when there’s love everywhere, but there’s none for me, the unthinkable transpired: I was robbed.

My wristlet, containing my two most valuable cards– my debit and my Starbucks cards– was ripped from my arm. In true New York fashion, I began to run the rascal down, ready to introduce him to my little fist, but reason and paranoia soon gave way to rational thinking and I stopped midtracks. If he was armed, I was endangering my life. And I can’t die before I try the Starbucks trenta.

Feeling violated and more than a little annoyed that I would be unable to pick up a latte on my way back to the office, I began reflecting on the only other time I have ever been robbed. I was eight years old, and my mother and I had taken a spontaneous road trip to Washington DC. While in the Air and Space Museum, a bandit broke into our car and stole my CD collection, which included the greatest hits of Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, and Notorious B.I.G. (I’ve always had eclectic taste).

While my mother and I waited patiently for our car to be fixed, we glanced around at the neighborhood– homeless people, overflowing dumpsters, and impoverished faces abounded. As you may have guessed, the car repair shop was not located in Georgetown.

However, in those moments, I gained some perspective. Though I would not be singing along to “Big Poppa” on my departure from DC, I would have a home with a fully stocked refrigerator to return to. And, more importantly, my mother would continue to be a support system for me– regardless of how shaken by the experience she was herself.

In a similar manner, when I returned to campus today, I was greeted by a letter from my first grade penpal– Matthew– who lives in a downtown Boston project. He informed me he was a meat eater, who loves hot dogs and pepperoni pizza. He hoped someday I would leave my vegetarian ways behind me and join him in a carnivorous adventure.

And then he ended his letter by asking, “Do you have fish?” Without recounting my many failed attempts to keep a goldfish alive for more than 24 hours, I will summarize my response as follows, “No, I have something better– your friendship.” And as Matthew signed his card, “Your best friend and I send all my love to you,” I wrote, “With all the hugs and kisses in the universe, Yaffa.”

Matthew was my DC repair shop; he was what put into perspective my latte-less Thursday. And his picture is what will continue to hang above my thesis carrel until graduation.


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