A Ride Towards Redemption
A $70 bus pass.
To most of us, this would not be considered a luxury, let alone, “the best gift” one had ever received.
But to Trevor, it was going to be difference maker, the golden ticket, the lifeline to get him off the streets.
I was confused at first. I thought I was helping, but as I stretched out my hand to give him the pass, tears welled up in his eyes. As we sat together on the curb in front of the station, through his sobbing he tried to explain. Something about the job had been all lined up. More that he was ready to turn his life around. And most of all that he wanted to get off the streets.
As Trevor settled into the calm, he was able to explain, “I was so close. I had gotten the job. I knew I just needed to keep it for the month and then I would get the room.”
To his surprise, it wasn’t getting ‘cleaned up’ every day that was the hard part. He had that part all figured out. “The hardest part was literally figuring out how to get to work every day.”
He explained how he had days where he didn’t have the money to pay for the train ticket. He knew he was “dancing with the devil”, but “compared to some of the other things (he) had done,” he didn’t think this one was too bad.
Until that day he got caught without a ticket.
“I really tried to pull it off. I thought because I was in my work clothes, they would believe me when I told them I had accidentally left my wallet at home,” Trevor recalled.
He asked the people around him if they could give him the money for his ticket. “But apparently they could see right through my lie. I knew someone riding on that train had the money. They just didn’t want to help me. Or they just didn’t care.”
“Either way,” he went on to tell me, “I knew they were going to tell me to get off the train. It was that or get another criminal citation and huge fine. And on top of that I knew when I didn’t make it to work that day, I wouldn’t have my job anymore.”
“And the worst part,” tears again welling up in his eyes, “wasn’t that I knew I was going to lose my job, or even my chance at renting that room.” Now struggling, he choked out the words, “The worst part was that to those people on the train that day I was just a problem, some punk kid. I was making them late to wherever it was they were trying to get to.
“To them that was more important than me getting to that job that day. But to me, it was beyond the fact that I didn’t matter, it was the looks when they glared at me. They despised me, like I didn’t even deserve to be there.”
Trevor kept on explaining, “It’s hard, you know, to keep believing in yourself when everyone around you wishes you weren’t there.”
As he continued to talk, my heart broke alongside his that afternoon as he shared his curbside reflection about that day several months ago. Weeping once again as I handed him that unassuming bus pass, through the stream of tears, this punk, tough-guy Trevor thanked me again and again for his “new lease on life.” Grateful for the unlimited access to places he may need to go, opportunities to start “fighting for myself again.” Things you and I certainly take for granted, an assurance for safer travel, “less chances for the bad guys to get in the way.”