I stood beneath a corner streetlamp, wondering how to put out the vibe that yes, I was the guy who'd been harassing the MTA for last hour, and no, I wasn't cruising for kicks. Me, the handsome hardbody with eyes you could drown in, loitering on a street corner and looking expectantly in several directions. Nothing suspicious going on here. Nope.
It was peaceful, mostly, except for the low thrum of traffic hurtling down the Henry Hudson Parkway. How did I get here? I thought. And more importantly, how will I get away from here? I scanned some of the houses nearby, sizing up which ones looked most like they had guest rooms with 300-count linens. Maybe there were some amiable people in that farmhouse over there, who would put me up for the night as long as I didn't sleep with their gorgeous daughter.
About 15 minutes passed. Then, out of the shadows, came the man who shall always be canonized in the cathedral of my brain. May I present ... Saint Teddy! The original driver, the guy on whose bus this whole adventure started. He was smiling broadly, and as he approached I searched for a telltale glint of black leather. Sure enough, there it was. My beautiful wallet in the left hand of this beautiful man, who had driven five miles out of his way, in his own car, to save me at least three hours of crap the following day.
Roll credits and cue John Williams, right? Ha, not by a longshot. Because after we talked for a bit, and I was bracing for an hour or so at the bus stop, he asked me ... wait for it ... if I wanted a lift home. (You can go ahead and re-read that. I'll wait.) Are you kidding me? Does this happen? Yes, you're damned well right I'd like a lift home, sir! Maybe we could stop by your home first, so I could paint it!
Five minutes later I was snugged and seatbelted in Teddy's stylin' BMW, with the bossest rims I've ever been associated with, and thinking how I could possibly repay this man. A tip was fine, but really. This was incredible. He bucked protocol, went maverick, and took care of business by taking care of me. A lousy Jackson couldn't cover this. I wanted some way to pay back kindness with kindness.
Just as I was thinking this, we heard a grinding coming from the rear axle. We pulled over to find that we were riding on one of those boss rims.
He had a flat tire. Hello, Instant Karma.
Have you ever tried to change a flat in the dark of night by yourself? It's a total pain, unless you like biting flashlights. Together, though, we totally pit-crewed that bitch. Three minutes of jacks and cranks and flying lugnuts, and we were back on the road. And we started talking, about our jobs, our kids, our plans. Turns out he has two teenagers, one applying to college. And he never works the BxM routes; he runs mostly out of Queens, and he had switched shifts with a friend whose wife was having a baby.
I shook his hand and told him I was really glad I'd met him, and in a New York minute he was off on his trajectory and I on mine. Is it a coincidence that the next day the nation took a stand and voted for hope 0ver fear, for a change? Of course it is. But I know I will take this story with me, to pull out and savor when I need to be reminded that the world has good people who are willing to do good things for other good people who happen to be terribly absent-minded. And I know that whenever I reach into my right butt pocket, I will think of the few minutes I spent as a Riverdale trickboy, utterly vulnerable and dependent on the kindness of strangers.