I was at the University of Chicago to attend a colloquium recently. In case you’ve never been there, UofC is a lovely campus – just shy of being quaint and pastoral by it’s proximity to some of the more unsavory parts of Chicago.
I mention this because as you stroll across campus you’re likely to encounter folks who have no business being there other than they’re simply passing through or because they have no business being anywhere. Street people fall into the latter category. But don’t get me wrong, the urban setting and the social mix on campus is one of the truly wonderful things I love about the place.
So, I’m walking towards the Kersten Physics Teaching Center along Ellis when from a distance I saw a man standing on a bench ousite the Franck Institute, yelling at a construction crew. The crew was busy assembling a massive iron framing for a portion of the new Residential Commons and making quite a lot of noise at it.
It’s iron, it clangs.
And it apparently had grated the man’s nerves to the point where he had to stop whatever task had previously occupied him, park his cart next to a shrub and launch a diatribe at the workers from atop the bench.
My eyes were fixed on the man as I passed by. He was passionate, his neck muscles clenched and the veins in his head neared the bursting point. Then he looked down – in mid sentence mind you – took me in with one gaze and nodded at me.
“I like you, Slim. You’re alright.”
And damn if I didn’t feel like I was.