It was getting a little late in the evening on a Monday night. I had just finished up my personal training session followed by my weight management group which I affectionately call "fat class." After picking up some snacks for a work meeting for the following day, I went to 5th street to head back home. I hopped on the EL and got off at 11th street. I wanted to take a bus back because my bookbag was so heavy with the snacks and drinks. I didn't feel like walking home from City Hall.
As I waited at the vacant depot, a guy saunters up to me and sits down on the opposite end of the bench. He is Lil John's doppelganger. This guy even has the golden grill teeth. Maybe it was Lil John. All I know is that he was high, drunk, and crazy. He kept talking and rapping to himself. Then, when cars would stop at the traffic light, he'd scream at the cars and wave a cd around saying "HEY! BUY MY CD ITS HOT SHIIIITTTT!!!!"
Normally crazy people don't bother me. I typically avoid eye contact and find something shiny to stare at. Unfortunately the only shiny thing around was this guys teeth. There wasn't a bus in sight and I had to make muffins for the meeting as soon as I got home. I decided to hail a cab because I couldn't deal with the singing, slurring, crazy guy anymore.
The cab pulled up and I hopped in. Lil John screamed at the cab, trying to sell his hot shit CD. The cab driver, who looked like he could be from Turkey, said to me "what is he selling?" I told him "a music cd...and probably a poor one at that." "Thank you for rescuing me from crazy Lil John." Hailing from a foreign country, as most of the Philadelphia cab drivers do, my driver had no clue who Lil John was so the joke was lost.
I put my bus pass away and stared out the window. The driver interrupted my thoughts by asking me, "so what do you do?" Now, in the past I've had cabbies hit on me. One was a really hot Spanish guy who to this day I regret not getting his number. But this guy was just making polite conversation which was a switch from the Arabs who prefer to talk on their bluetooth the entire ride in their native language.
I told him I was a social worker who helped homeless women and children. I didn't know his scope of knowledge of shelters, transitional housing, and youth advocates so I played it simple. After giving him this information, he reached into the center console and whipped out a $1 bill. He handed it to me and said "for the donation bin."
I was touched and startled by the gesture. I was also really tired yet still managed to not make a crack about how we weren't a church or whatnot. I thanked him and told him I'd put it to good use. We continued our small talk which also included a brief conversation of what he should do with a bag of new baby clothes that a guy left in his cab and were now in the cab driver's personal car. In the end he decided to put them in a donation dumpster. He asked me if they'd reach needy people that way.
Having made the mistake of putting a ton of my clothes in the donation dumpster, I should have warned him that 9 times out of 10 the clothes just get torn apart and the fabric is recycled. Instead I wanted to keep his hopes alive and told him that "of course, the baby clothes will make it to a needy person."
We reached my stop and he said "It was a privilege driving you this evening. I really admire someone who helps others and does good for others. Its a rare thing. Have a great night." He gave me his number in case I ever needed a ride. I appreciated the gesture because he was so sincere. He clearly wasn't hitting on me and he cared about the human spirit. It was kind of a rare situation to cherish.
So the following day I brought in that dollar and told the Executive Director about it. We're not sure how it will be put to use but I assure you, it will help someone, someway. I'm a firm believer in donor intent so I'll be sure a resident or child benefits from this man's nice gesture. Yet, his kind words and thoughts behind the action were worth way more than the dollar.
Until next time...