Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Backpack

My backpack to be specific.  See, it all started when I got back from a full day of flying.  I got in the MAF truck to drive home and noticed it was almost out of gas.  I figured I'd stop by the gas station on my way home and fill it up, so I pulled into the station on the Main street of Bunia, told the attendant how much diesel I wanted, and waited until he finished pumping it.  Then I locked the doors and headed inside to pay at the counter.  As I was counting out what I owed, I took a quick glance back out at the car and noticed a young man standing next to the car with a blue backpack that looked a whole lot like the one I take with me every time I fly.  It didn't register right away, but I figured I'd take one more good look as I started walking down the side of the road.  Then I knew, it was my backpack, the one that was sitting on the front passenger seat of the truck.  As he disappeared around the corner, I took off in a full sprint, slowing down just enough to peek in through the windshield of the truck and make sure all my other stuff was still there.  It was; back to a full sprint.  As I rounded the corner, I half expected to see nothing but a crowd of people (and to see really cool stuff for sale at the market the next day that looked a whole lot like mine), but I spotted my bright blue backpack over the shoulder of another guy.  I was enraged, and I started shouting at the top of my lungs.  (Only now I realize as I look back on the event, it may have helped to have been shouting in French, not English).  Then I had a flashback from my days in was a common thing to see young kids who would come up to your car and kick the door or throw something and then take off, hoping you would get mad and chase after them.  Then, while you were busy chasing the kid, some other kids would come around the corner and go through everything you had in the car without you even knowing it.  I quickly glanced back over my shoulder and all I saw was a bunch of wide-eyed, open-mouthed people staring in unbelief.  I didn't care, I just kept on running.  And as this guy saw I was not going to stop running full bore until I had my belongings back, he got scared and took off running himself.  Amazingly, I was still gaining on him, until I finally got within 10 feet of him, he sheepishly dropped my backpack and kept on running.  I just picked it up and walked back to the car, through the still gaping crowd of onlookers.  After making sure everything was still in the car, I again locked the door and went inside to pay.  Nobody said a whole lot, nor did I.  I was way too out of breath for a conversation. 

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