Back in elementary school, I latched myself onto being best friends with the second angriest kid in the school so that I could live vicariously through his fights (and hide behind him when needed). I’ve managed to best my mother’s 4’10” of height, but my growth spurt didn’t happen until grade 10 or 11. Instead, while out on the playground, I would always be mapping escape routes, where I could go, who I could run to if things got rough. Not that they ever really did.
Which is a roundabout way of saying, I’ve never been a tough guy.
I have only ever bought one item through craigslist – a Nintendo DS with Pokemon Pearl. I was 20 years old at the time, wanted to save a few dollars, and wasn’t averse to getting one second hand, so I looked up a seller on craigslist and phoned him up. He suggested we meet at a particular skytrain station I wasn’t familiar with. We chose a time, I said sure, and hung up. Then I looked up the station.
End of the line. Into distant reaches I had never ventured.
Started sounding sketchy to me, but as I had recently made a life decision to inherently trust in strangers until they give me a reason not to (and this wasn’t reason enough), I strengthened my resolve and headed out that extra thirty minutes on a skytrain I wasn’t familiar with, along a route I’d never taken, right to the end of the line, my mind racing with expectations of getting roughed up for the 150$ cash in my pocket. Making a large cash transaction with a stranger at a skytrain station. Yup.
I finally get there.
I’d told the guy I would be wearing a bright orange Minibosses t-shirt for easy identification. When I step off the train, fully expecting a couple of large dudes in hoodies… I am instead approached by a meek, skinny kid a head shorter than me, perhaps 14 years old, tripping over his words as he apologizes for losing the plastic stylus and that he hopes that isn’t too much of a problem and he is so sorry about that but the game and the DS are still good see I can turn it on see?
And behind him, also as nervous as a guinea pig in a crowded room, is a friend he had clearly brought as muscle, also a head shorter than me, a little stouter, but still tiny compared to my 5’6” frame. For the first time in my life, I was the intimidating, imposing giant, physically in charge of the situation. I was the big man.
I paid for my new DS and laughed as I stepped back onto a skytrain. As the train rumbled on, I saw how I towered over the trees and buildings below, a giant grin on my face.