Helplessness and my black big-button house phone

Helplessness: the dull sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that -- and what did you do about it?

This is a very interesting question. I am not very familiar with the feeling of helplessness. Maybe because I have always felt there was a way out of anything. Maybe because I have had the same best friend and an extremely loving uncle in my life. Maybe because Mother was a hustler and I learned early that it doesn't kill you then cut your losses and keep moving forward. I just rarely even feel helpless. The last time I can remember feeling like that was when I left Oakland back in 1994.

I had just returned from a trip to Atlanta to visit my best friend. The visit was amazing. I had just reconnected with my best friend after not seeing him for a couple of years due to my living the life of a religious fanatic. (He was my runner-up for yesterday's prompt). I had just experience life on a Historically Black University which until that visit I thought was a fabrication of Bill Cosby and company and furthermore, I had spoken to a person in admissions while out there and it looked like I was going to be a student there in the fall. Everything was looking great.

Until I got home.

My apartment was empty. I had been robbed. My radio and everything that could plug into a wall was gone. My music collection which was well over a thousand cassettes was gone. My phone was gone. I really loved that phone. It was jet black with huge clear buttons that lit up when you pushed them. Even all the food that was in the cupboards and the refrigerator was gone. The only things left in my apartment were my books and my clothes.

I was in complete shock. At this point in my life, things were not going great. I was jobless because thirty part-time supervisor positions were cut which included me and I was friendless because the religious fanatics were no longer communicating with me because I was not as fanatic as required for communication. So, for a hot second, I felt helpless.

Then I remember that I had a just returned from a place of opportunity. My best friend was there, a chance to go to school was there and I knew I could find work there.

I remembered I still had money. I had learned a long time ago that the best place to hide money is in books because "people" for lack of a better word don't read. I went to my bookshelf and sure enough, all my cash was in place.

I had a car. It was a beat two door Toyota corolla with a sheet of Plexiglas for a window but it ran. So, with a working vehicle, cash and a place to go, I decided to go to Atlanta.

So, that's what I did. I drove to Atlanta. By myself. Fifty-two hours total. But that's another story.

Oh, but let me tell you this. When I decided to go to Atlanta, I wanted to talk to my Uncle about the drive and I wanted to call my best friend to tell him I was coming. But I had no phone. So, I went to my next door neighbor's apartment to use the phone.

When he answered my knock, he cracked the door and asked what I wanted. I told him I had been robbed and that I needed to use the phone to make a collect call. He said he was busy. I begged him to please let me use the phone. After much hesitation, he opened the door and let me in.

As I entered, my neighbor sat down on the couch next to his wife who looked extremely nervous. I looked back at him and he looked nervous too. Neither one said anything and I was wondering why they were acting so weird. I shrugged it off and asked where the phone was. The wife pointed to the direction of the phone and when I turned towards it, I found out why they were acting so weird.

There was my phone.

I just bit my lip and made my phone calls. This was a fight that didn't even matter anymore. I was going to Atlanta.