Yesterday morning, I woke up with intense stomach pain. I knew I needed to be seen by a doctor soon, but these NYC doctors weren’t taking me seriously. Thankfully my mother offered for me to fly down to Atlanta and get the medical care I needed there.
Nothing that morning was going right. Instead of diving into the underground, I saw a bus headed toward Penn Station, where I needed to catch the NYC Airporter. I swiped my MetroCard and plopped down in a seat, waiting for my stop. Two hours ticked by and the bus still hadn’t reached Penn Station. Next, I get the notice that the bus would only stop at 42nd street, not 34th street. I dashed off the bus and ran to 34th street, praying that the Airporter would still be there. It was. Thank GOD!
I lugged my backpack into the Airporter and sat directly behind the driver, a tall black man in his 40s or 50s. He ended his phone call and demanded, “Who are you?” I replied, “Gabrielle. Who are you?” “Ray.” he said, confidently.
I could tell that he wanted to chit chat with me so I put my headphones in my bag and prepared myself for whatever he wanted to discuss. During the fifteen-minute bus ride, he told me a big chunk of his life story. Here’s the essentials: he’s from NYC and moved to Maryland recently to save some money and start a new life. Unfortunately, no one would hire him in Maryland. He discussed the various reasons for that:
- He’s from NYC and they don’t like New Yorkers.
- Black people down there have a “slave mentality.”
I don’t know if that’s true, but I know that his experience is valid. So, he wasn’t able to find a job in Maryland and had to come back to NYC last winter, the absolute worst time to be down on your luck in the big city. In order to survive, Ray stayed at a homeless shelter and worked as a street cleaner, sweeping streets and changing garbage bags.
While he told me all of this, I thought about my own life. To me, a retail job is demeaning. I couldn’t even imagine myself doing the type of labor he had to do for his survival. Who do I think I am?
Now he drives for the Airporter and he rents a room in NYC, although he has aspirations to move outside of NYC. He never thought he’d be in this situation at his age, but he’s not giving up hope. His friends tell him that God is testing him, and of course I put my two cents in at that moment.
After describing everything I’ve been through this year, I added that maybe God is teaching him to learn to rely on Him. Maybe God wants him to appreciate what He’s given him. I don’t know what God’s doing in Ray’s life. But, I do know that God loves Ray deeply. He cares about his life. He wants the best for Ray.
Ray gave me some good life advice. He told me to never give up. He told me to hang in there. I’m young and my whole life is ahead of me.
After the bus ride, he tried to give me a high-five and I tried to give him a tip. He refused to take it. I insisted and he said, “You need it more than I do.”
I looked up at him and said, “This is for the life advice you gave me. From a sister to a brother.”
Immediately his eyes flushed with tears and he hugged me and called me his friend.
God bless this man. What a God experience.