Compassion on the 10:40 Train.

I wanted to share an event that happened just last night. While it may not be on the same scale of generosity as the two previous accounts, it was still touching.

Last night, I caught the 10:40 Union Pacific West line back out to Lombard after a long day in the city. Exhausted, I chose a seat in the emptiest train car, where I could wallow in self-pity. Why was I in such an anti-social mood, you ask? Oh, you know, because Boise State ruined their BCS title hopes once again over a missed field goal. I experienced every extreme emotion possible yesterday: joy, awe, determination, and lastly, extreme disappointment. I did not want to socialize with anyone. I wanted to replay Chris Peterson's coaching decisions during the last 2 minutes of the game over...and over...and over.

Let's just say that plan didn't last long. Somewhere between overhearing a couple argue about why he does not like her family, and laughing at a group of "adults" debate about whether or not Taco Bell was better fast food than Wendy's, my eavesdropping was suddenly interrupted.

A "different" looking guy who looked to be in his mid-twenties approached the couple and asked if either of them could spare $1 so that he would be able to pay for the train ride home once the conductors hunted him down. The boy he asked reached for his wallet, and responded:

"You just need a dollar?"

"Well, I still need to round up $4.00 actually, but....anything would help."

I listened, fully expecting to hear the usual snide remark I so often hear from Chicagoans when they are asked for money by the less fortunate....but the complete opposite occurred.

Not one, not two, but THREE people reached for their wallet at once to contribute to this stranger so that he was able to reach his destination. The first gentlemen he had asked beat everyone, however. He handed over the $4 and smiled. Just like that.

The guy that had asked for the cash was astonished. You could tell he was used to getting rejected by the way he asked so timidly. When he accepted the money, his eyes lit up and he thanked the man more than once.

Now I realize we are talking about four dollars here, but it was the principle that was touching. Watching three strangers quickly reach for their wallets without questioning what the money was "really" going towards, was enough to snap me out of my post-game depression.

My heart smiled at this simple act of kindness. I'm still not sure why I was so surprised. Maybe I've just had skeptics around me for too know, the people who assume that every homeless person is just a lazy drug addict with no desire to ever get a job and contribute to society like the rest of us hard-working Americans. Whatever the reason may be, I was thankful to have witnessed it.

It is amazing how these simple acts of kindness can transform the way we view society. Suddenly, I was grateful to be on the 10:40 train...Shoot, the fast food debate even became intriguing.





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    The $4 was such a big deal to that guy, but I think the even bigger shock was that someone would GIVE so immediately. Thanks for the stories. Nothing inspires so much as hearing what others have done or have received. I think we get so hung up on the need to give ANONYMOUSLY--and that IS really COOL--but if we can't do it facelessly, we still need to do it and people still need to hear about it. Otherwise, how do we pay it forward? We need the inspiration. If the receivers don't share, the givers must--to inspire--and you don't have to share your name. Thanks for this site!

  • What is astonishing to me is that we as a society have decided that people who are addicted to drugs do not deserve getting help. That one act of help or kindness might be the gesture they need to turn their life around or keep from ending it. Nice post!

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