THE TRANSIT PASS THAT WAS A TICKET TO HAPPINESS
A few years ago, I was traveling in Chicago. I was in the area for five days and purchased a seven-day pass for the city’s mass transit service. As I departed the El train for the final time, I milled around for a bit, looking at my itinerary and deciding how to burn some time before my flight.
I happened to notice a well-dressed elderly lady standing by the pass machine, digging in her purse. She was clearly frustrated and a bit upset, so I strolled over and asked her what was wrong. It turned out that she didn’t have adequate money to purchase a pass. I handed her mine (with two days of travel still on it) and wished her good luck. She shook my hand several times, thanked me profusely and asked me for my address. I gave her my business card and walked away. It was an incident I had largely forgotten by the time I boarded my plane at O’Hare Airport.
A few weeks later out of the blue, I received a handwritten card in the mail from the lady. She again thanked me for my efforts in assisting her, mentioned the foundation she worked for and instructed me to contact her if I ever needed assistance. Also, in the card was a crisp $50 bill.
That $50 bill came along at a perfect moment. It helped me to take my wife-to-be out on a date that ended with her telling me that she loved me. Within a few years we were married, and now we have three wonderful children in our home.
I still have that handwritten card. I’ve googled her a few times and was devastated to learn that she passed away a year or so ago. She never knew the impact that our chance meeting had on my life.
That simple moment of handing my no-longer-needed bus pass to a woman in need snowballed into a life-changing sequence of events. So often, we are brought to a higher place by the simple generosity of a stranger. Returning that generosity—or passing it forward—is a noble gesture indeed.