Julio Diaz, a social worker, was returning home to the Bronx after a long day at work. Just after he got off the train, a teenager held him up at knifepoint.
This is the story:
So I get off the train. You know, I’m walking towards the stairs and this young teenager, uh, pulls out a knife. He wants my money. So I just gave him my wallet and told him, ’Here you go.’ He starts to leave and as he’s walking away I’m like, ’Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re gonna be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.’ So, you know, he’s looking at me like, ’What’s going on here?’ You know, and he asked me, ’Why are you doing this?’ And I’m like, ’Well, I don’t know, man, if you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was go get dinner and, uh, if you really want to join me, hey, you’re more than welcome.’
So I’m like, ’Look, you can follow me if you want.’ You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help. So, you know, we go into the diner where I normally eat and we sit down in the booth and the manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi – you know so… The kid was like, ’Man but you know like everybody here. Do you own this place?’ I’m like, ’No, I just eat here a lot.’ He’s like, ’But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.’ I’m like, ’Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?’ So he’s like, ’Yeah, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way.”
So I just asked him in the end I’m like, ’What is it that you want out of life?’ He just had almost a sad face. Either he couldn’t answer me or he didn’t want to. The bill came and I look at him and I’m like, ’Look, uh, I guess you’re gonna have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this so if you give me my wallet back I’ll gladly treat you.’ He didn’t even think about it he’s like, ’Yeah, okay, here you go.’ So I got my wallet back and I gave, you know, I gave him twenty dollars for it.
You know, I figure, uh, maybe it’ll help him – I don’t know. And when I gave him the twenty dollars, I asked him to give me something in return – which was his knife – and he gave it to me.
You know, it’s funny ’cause when I told my mom about what happened – not mom wants to hear this but – at first she was like, ’Well, you know, you’re the kind of kid if someone asked you for the time you gave them your watch.’ I don’t know, I figure, you know, you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.
Story courtesy of Storycorps.org