We woke up in Cambridge, from a sound slumber on the apartment floor of a complete stranger. The apartment is much cooler then it had been about 12 hours before. Our first task was to call our professor to hell her our plans for getting back outside. We slowly munched on muffins and continued to talk about what had happened the day before and try to get some real meaning out of it. Upon our return to South Station, we had to give a 10 minute lesson on what we’d learned on our journey in the city. We started to formulate a plan for our lesson.. and finally headed back out into the chilly city air. It was in the mid 20’s this morning with a biting wind blowing in off of the Harbor. As we wandered down the streets through Cambridge, we passed a building with a large mural on its side. Upon looking at it.. it struck me. This idea of human needs.. dignity… all rolled into one mural. A painting depicting people helping people. Brothers, sisters, neighbors… in this mural it mattered not the color of your skin.. what mattered on the faces of those painted.. was the simple idea of a smile.

We walked into a Dunkin’ Donuts after seeing a Cambridge police Officer walk in. He stood in what little of a line there was for that time of the morning.. waiting to order his coffee. I walked up to him and told him about our class and asked if I could ask him a question. He turned to me with his black sunglasses still on… because it’s so damn sunny inside Dunkin’s… and said, “What?” I asked if Social Justice was a part of the mission of his Department or his job. He said, “NO” I turned my head and shot back with a sharp, “really?” He didn’t care for my questioning his answer to much to which he replied.. “No… as far as we’re concerned, you break the law you pay.” I was so struck by his demeanor.. his answer… what a JERK!

We continued to walk down the street when we soon past two men standing under the awning of a local business. Both of these men looked hold, hands stuffed in pockets, shifting from side to side as they stood. I asked if either of them could use a sweatshirt to which one of the men said “No.. but my friend here could.” I took out a red fleece sweatshirt and in following the rules, I asked him to tell me something about himself. He grabbed the sweatshirt and held it up in front of his face like any average shopper would do within the confines of a clothing store. He looked it over, turned it around.. and when I saw his face next.. all I could see was the gigantic smile he was wearing. So distracted by his new item he asked, “What do you need?” I asked him to tell me something again, “I just got out of prison.. I’d served 6 months.” When I asked why, he answered with a smile, “Assault and battery on a Police Officer.” I shook his hand and turned to walk away… it wasn’t until we had walked a bit down the street that my group mates told me the man wanted a hug. I didn’t pick up on it then.. but in hindsight I realized that indeed he did. So elated and happy was he.. that the form of payment he wanted to give was a hug. Imagine.. something so simple.. for something… so simple. This notion.. this idea has moved me in many ways in the days since the experience.

We headed down to JFK Street to find out who’s office was at 51 JFK Street apartment 304. Upon entering the lobby we found a listing for Dewey, Cheatum and Howe.. Attorney’s at Law. Of course, these would be the attorneys for “The Car Guys” on NPR… or are they? We walked across the Harvard Bridge.. and began our long walk back into downtown Boston.

We walked down Comm Ave past BU.. Past Fenway and right back into the heart of the city. Down onto Newbury Street.. we made our way to The Christian Science Center.. but it was closed. So we made our way into the Prudential Center Tower to see if we could get to the “Top of the Hub” restaurant, the most expensive place to eat in the city. The restaurant was closed, so we took a ride to the 50th floor.. the observation deck. Upon stepping out of the elevator we found out that it was $12 just to look out the windows.. the experience was starting to click in with me.. we asked what the price was upstairs for a certain Bottle of wine and the Caviar Appetizer… the total for just those 2 items tops out at $1,900… and there you have it.. This entire experience summed up in one stop. Out on the streets, a woman is homeless… getting kicked off the side walk for looking “bad.” College kids are getting a free canoli.. and at the highest point.. the mecca of the city, you can blow 2 Grand on a bottle of wine and some fish eggs… The poor get poorer.. the rich get richer.. and that word Dignity.. is a farce and/or forgotten. I suddenly hate the city more now then ever before and my only wish is to go home.

We went to the Boston Public Library… but it was closed. I picked up a heart handband from a trash barrel and put it on my head in honor of Valentines Day. We walked into Cheers and got a few match books. Then across the common, past Make Way for Ducklings, past the ice rink and up into a burial ground. Here we ran into some classmates, also paying patriotic tribute to Mr. John Hancock.

From here… it was back to South Station where we met up with our class. We all got in a circle while the Professor laid out a spread of food on the ground. She gave us freedom to attack… and boy did it. I was starving.. having survived my own personal challenge of not eating or drinking munch. I put kit kats on plain bagels and munched down. So yummy for some odd reason. From here.. all groups gave their 10 minute presentations. For ours.. we asked the class that if anyone had any money left of the $2.. to take it out. We gave them 4 options. 1.) Do Nothing 2.) Give someone in the class a huge 3.) Give someone in the class your money, or some of your money. 4.) Give a hug and money. The class did their thing.. even welcoming a stranger into the circle whom I gave a dollar I received to. We then spent our time talking about this idea of dignity and why some folks gave their money back to those whom gave it to them. The money, representing something they worked very hard for and to keep through the last 24 hours.. so willing to give it away… receive it.. or not.. We talked about the idea of capitalism and how it is ruining this idea of dignity and denying humans of their basic needs. How the rich are getting richer and are uninterested in helping us unless it benefits themselves.. and how the poor.. and suffering more now then ever.

Mission accomplished… the experience was eye opening for me and in some cases life changing. A hug means more to me now then ever and so does simply saying hello.


One thought

  1. Awesome experience there John. I have been reading the blogs. What an amazing class.

    I heard of you from the Ultra site. Am a beginning runner and want to do ultras at some point.

    Cool blog!
    John Goodie


Comments are closed.