Cool Children


It's funny how an acquaintance from the past just pops into your head sometimes. Usually the flashback is brought on by a phrase someone says, or a thought you have. Today my particular flashback was induced by the words "this guy," which were uttered by one of the custodians where I work, as we passed in the hall.

I'll tell you how that phrase came to be...

Some time ago, in my multi-faceted career -- I call it that to avoid the more accurate yet less honorable "all those jobs I had." -- I was working as a graphic artist at a print shop in Fairfield, New Jersey. They had a bindery department where all the cutting, collating, punching and stapling was done.

When I first started my job, the boss was showing me around the place and introducing me to all the people. We came to the bindery department and he said "We have children working in the bindery." I thought that was strange, and maybe a little illegal. I also wondered what he was talking about because I saw no children in there, but I let it pass.

I didn't find out what he meant until I became acquainted with one fellow who worked in the bindery, and who was there at the time my boss was showing me around. This was Children, Children Avena.

Children was from Haiti, and had moved to the U.S. with his father and brother. He spoke Haitian Creole and perfect English with all it's slang wonderfully affected by his colorful accent. I would often overhear him speaking Creole with a fellow employee in the bindery, also from Haiti. The conversations eluded me completely, but they were fun to listen to.

Children was lean and physically fit with a mop of dreadlocks that would flop around when he walked. Aside from his exotic origins Children intrigued me with his comical personality, his genuine, sincere character, and an uncanny talent to do impressive standing somersaults. Sometimes he would somersault from a stair rail right to the ground, landing perfectly on his feet.

Sometimes he would make fun of me, and "bust my chops" as my father would say. I would tell Children a dumb joke and most times he would shake his head and say, "dis guy, man!" Rolling his eyes and tipping his head in my direction.

"Dis guy, man."

That became one of my favorite phrases and Children and I would frequently mutter it in passing as we went about our daily tasks at the print shop.

Most days passed without instance, but sometimes Children would be in a bad mood, and it showed. I would let him be when I saw that he was having a bad day, but on occasion I would step into the bindery, roll my eyes and say "dis guy, man!" That would usually get a smile, if not a grumbling response of "dis guy," in agreement with mine, and collectively directed at whatever was bothering him that day.

I had great times working with Children, and could write a lot more. Maybe in a future observation I'll mention him again. Indirectly, he had an effect on my life. I became friends, for a time, with a person from another culture, another place. I won't ever forget Children, and I wonder from time to time if he remembers me.

Sometimes, when things aren't going my way, I catch myself muttering: "Dis guy, man."

Here's to knowing someone else.

Drew Vics, an artist, writer & musician from New Jersey, writes for www.Myeyez.net">http://www.Myeyez.net, and for other websites online.


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