I was in the marching band all through college (and high school too, but that’s irrelevant). We returned from band camp (shut up) each year on the afternoon of move-in day. During my sophomore year, I’d had the storage company deliver most of my stuff to my single dorm room, but all the stuff I’d driven up to Chicago with (luggage, TV, etc.) was stored in the music building while we were at camp. When we got back, the band staff would deliver our stored things to a prearranged location.
I came back from camp that year with food poisoning and a severe case of dehydration in addition to the usual post-camp bone weary exhaustion, so I wasn’t at my sharpest, to say the least.
I screwed up the prearranged location and waited for about two hours on the wrong street. My stuff never arrived. I freaked out, thinking it was lost. I called the band office. They said the stuff had been dropped off on another street and told me where to find that street. It was a small access street behind my dorm and across a little meadow.
So I hauled ass over there, just knowing that all my precious belongings would be gone. Night was falling as I walked up and down Emerson Street, my things nowhere in sight. I started crying like a little kid. I was just getting ready to head back to my dorm and call my parents when I spied something behind a bush.
There it all was. But I had no one to help me carry all that shit to my dorm, because all the people I knew who were on campus were in a rehearsal (that I was missing) and I had no way of calling them.
So I’m still crying, and I grab the biggest suitcase by its leash and shoulder another box and start to cross the street toward my dorm. I’m sobbing hard at this point, and the fucking suitcase on the flimsy leash keeps falling over on its side, and I have to stop to pick it up, and the world sucks and I hate everyone and then this guy rides up on a bike out of nowhere and asks if I’m okay.
I’m not okay. I’m sick and exhausted and crying my face off, and I explain the situation and he offers to help me get my stuff to my dorm room.
I’m thrilled with his kindness and accept the offer. He asks me to watch his bike while he goes to make sure the dorm doors are propped open. When he gets close I notice that he smells horrible, but figure he’s just a sweaty bike-riding guy.
So he goes and props all the doors open and helps me make several trips up and down four stories to get all the stuff up to my room. It takes a pretty long time.
Finally, we get the last box upstairs and he stacks it outside my door, and says, “Well, I think we’ve got it all.”
I thank him profusely for being so nice.
He says, “I think that’s worth at least $40 or $50, don’t you?”
My jaw hits the floor.
My brain begins to work and I take a good look at him and his clothes and put all that together with the body odor and realize that the dude is homeless.
I have about $60 in my purse. I say, “I didn’t know you expected me to pay you for this – I thought you were just being nice.”
He’s like, “Honey, you think I’d do all that shit for free?”
There are lots of people in the hall. They all know each other and I don’t know any of them and they’re all staring at me like I’m crazy or an idiot or both, and really, who can blame them?
So I tell him I only have $20, and that I’m really sorry but I hadn’t expected this. He says that’ll have to do, and I give him the $20 and he leaves.
I lock my door and call my parents and am all hysterical, and they freak out and tell me I can’t leave my dorm room for the rest of the night and call University Police and request a patrol around my dorm, and blah blah dramacakes and UP calls me twice that night to check in and make sure the guy didn’t come back and rob and kill me, which he did not.
I spent some of the rest of that week scared shitless, and this plus another incident with a different homeless bike rider (I’ll tell you later) made me develop an irrational fear of homeless people on bicycles. But I turned out okay, and it’s yet another one of those crazy-ass Lorie stories that I can break out at parties and stuff.
And now I’ve broken it out for you.