My day started just like all the other days for the past 15 years where I get up, make some coffee, shower, get dressed and leave for the train station at preciously 7:35 A.M. to arrive at work by 8:30. While on the train I would always choose a seat away from the crowd so I can read the newspaper in peace and quiet. At work I am always being bombarded with questions from coworkers, suppliers, telephone and then those dreaded meetings so the last thing I need is some stranger to sit beside me and make small talk.
I don’t know why but for some reason when I got on the train today it was unusually full, something I don’t recall ever happening in the past. With hesitation I sat down in the only seat available beside a middle aged man that had his head down and seemed to be lost in his thoughts. I was glad that he didn’t notice when I sat next to him as he just continued to look down towards the floor.
Shortly after the train left for my 30 minute ride downtown I found myself wondering what this man was thinking about. What could be so important that he didn’t even see me sit next to him? I tried to forget about it and started to read my paper. However, for some strange reason this “inner voice” kept prompting me to talk to this man. I tried to ignore the “voice” as there was no way I was starting a conversation with a complete stranger.
As you probably guessed I eventually broke down and came up with an excuse to ask him a question. When he raised his head and turned his eyes towards me I could see that he must have been really upset as he had red eyes and still had some tears rolling down the side of his face despite his feeble attempt to wipe them away. I can’t describe the sadness I felt seeing someone in so much pain.
We talked for about 20 minutes and in the end he seemed to be doing better. As we were leaving the train he thanked me profusely for being an angel by taking the time to talk. I never did find out what was making his heart so heavy with pain but was glad I listened to the “voice” that day.
Several weeks had passed when I noticed an envelope on my desk after returning from lunch. It was not addressed to anyone and only had the word “Angel” written on it. My receptionist attached a note saying a gentleman dropped it off saying he did not know my name but had described me well enough that the receptionist knew it was for me. When I read the note inside the envelope I was so filled with emotions that I couldn’t contain myself. It was a letter from the man I met on the train thanking me again for talking to him and saving his life that day.
Apparently he had some very hurtful personal problems that were so overwhelming he was planning to take his life that day. In his letter he went on to explain that he was a religious person and in desperation screamed out to God that if God really cared about him he would send someone to prevent him from taking his life. In his eyes I was that someone, that Angel sent by God.
Not being a religious person myself I don’t know what that “voice” was that made me take a chance and talk to a stranger but I do know that it made a difference in someone’s life that day. So the next time you feel prompted for no apparent reason to talk to a friend, relative, neighbor or even a complete stranger please remember my story. You just may make a difference in someone’s life when you listen to your inner voice.
– Bob Eilers
Reprinted from Motivational Moments by Nigel Alston