As I write this I’m waiting for my friend Amber to mosey up so we can watch a baseball game. I’m in Atlanta and we’re getting together to catch up on things.
The problem with this entire setup is that I’m directionally challenged. I’m lucky I don’t get lost walking from my backyard to my frontyard. We, however, decided to meet at a shuttle to the Stadium. So off I went, leaving my hotel and oblivious to how to get where I was going.
Armed with my phone and shakey directions from the concierge I set out in the general direction of the train station. As I tentatively walked along, constantly glancing at the little blue dot on my Google map move all over the place, I heard a voice speak to me.
“Hello. Do you know where you’re going?”
For the sake of my poor selective memory I’ll say that the voice was like . I looked up from my phone and met eyes with a slender black man with peppery hair dressed in a suit.
“I have no clue. A train station called Peach Tree Center?”
“You just passed it!” he chuckled. “Come on, follow me.”
And he proceded to walk me to the train entrance. Along the way we had a chat and I discovered that he had just left Emory University’s Egelston Hospital. He had just left there after putting a family into two taxi cabs. I can’t remember where they were going but he said that his church had picked up the tab for the funeral of a child they had just lost. After putting the family in the cabs (an $80 expense) and paying for the funeral he had $0.20 left in his pocket so he was doing the only thing left to do: walk home, some long distance away, and enjoy the beautiful day that he was blessed with.
“Here you are my friend! Are you going to be alright?” he said while putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Oh, yeah. Sure! This is great. I really appreciate your help. Um…you wouldn’t happen to know where the Atlanta Underground is, would you?”
“Yes, I do. It’s just about a mile down…let’s go. I’ll walk you there.”
Pastor Michael than proceded to walk towards the Underground, mentioning that we were going to walk straight down the street we were on. Pretty much the direction he had just come from.
“Pastor Michael, if I just need to walk down this street for about a mile then you don’t need to go out of your way to walk me, a complete stranger, all the way there. Now that you’ve helped me let me help you the only way that I can, as a way of saying ‘Thanks'”.
I reached into my wallet and I gave him $40.
I know, I know. What if he was just scamming me? What if he had lied about the whole thing? It didn’t really matter, did it? Here he was, reaching out and helping a complete stranger and not once did he ask for anything in return. What did that $40 mean to me anyways? A few less beers and hot dogs at the baseball game, right?
When I handed the money to him he was genuinely surprised and said that it was ok and I didn’t have to do that. I responded by reminding him that one good deed always deserves another. I then told him not to worry about it because everything works out in the end.
I extended my hand to give him one of those manly “Good-bye, my friend. Thank you.” handshakes. Pastor Michael grasped my hand, shook it, and then hugged me. He reminded me not to get off the path that I was on and to just keep going forward, straight ahead.
Those last words meant more to me than Pastor Michael could ever know.
With that we parted ways. Directional metaphors aside he was right: I found the Underground. A young woman and her 3 piece band had just started singing Etta James “At Last” (coincidentally the first dance song at my wedding) when I got there.