“He tried to kill me, and I hugged him.”

My flight was delayed till the next day, so I decided to hit up a friend who lived in Atlanta. On the ride to her house in the suburbs, I started talking to my driver, Manuel, who was a short, middle-aged hispanic man with twinkling eyes.

Manuel drove for Uber part time. He was studying to get a counseling degree . Meanwhile, he volunteered at his church as an informal counselor and  peer advisor to people with addiction problems.

“It’s mostly white people,” he said. “My church is in the good part of town.”

“Do you have a lot of people you have to see?”

“A few. Most of them are kids, you know. They just need to talk to someone.”

“It must be a very difficult job.”

“I just want to help,” he responded. “I know how hard it is to think you’re alone.”

“Do they normally turn out OK?”

He shrugged. “Some, yeah. Some, no. There’s one guy, I’m working with him now, he comes from a good family but he’s just messed up in the head. His family doesn’t believe me that he needs to see a professional.”

“Wow. What did he say to you?”

“He tried to kill me, man.”

“He tried to kill you?”

“Yeah. He was high on some shit and I caught him with it. And he grabbed a knife.”

“What happened??”

“I held out my arms. I said, ‘I’m unarmed, man. I’m not here to hurt you. And God loves you very much.’”

“And then?”

“He dropped the knife. And I hugged him.”

“Were you scared?”

“Yeah. But I think he was more scared than me.”

About the artist:

California Bay Area artist Annie Haines has been drawing, painting and printmaking since the mid 1980s. She received an Associates Degree in Commercial Illustration from Lansing Community College in Michigan. Working for many years as the Art and Design librarian at the University of Michigan in the School of Art & Design also had a lasting influence on her art education. Librarianship exposed her to thousands of books, magazines and other materials in the collection she managed. Being an artist herself helped her to understand and teach other artists to navigate the vast quantities of information available at the University. Working at the School allowed her to meet many talented artists, take workshops, attend lectures, see demonstrations, sit in on classes and absorb a world-class education. Throughout decades of working in the library profession, she actively dedicated herself to furthering her own artistic skills. Annie’s move to the California Bay Area in 2015 from Michigan was a remarkable opportunity for her to devote herself fully to art making and explore an exciting and diverse natural environment. Her work has been exhibited nationally and abroad and is held in private collections in many areas of the world.