A drunken man entered Clement’s taxi when he was about to head home for the night. He drove him to the given address, but the man became difficult for a particular reason and left his wallet behind. When Clement returned it, the owner offered him a shocking reward.
“Come on, sir. You told me this was your address. Here,” Clement told the half-asleep man in his backseat.
“No, no, no. This is not my house… anymore. I can’t go inside,” the man slurred and seemed to pass out. Clement got out of the car and helped the man out too. He was somewhat awake, so Clement got back in his car and drove. But through his rearview mirror, he saw the man crumbling to the ground and lying down on the pavement.
“Oh, man,” he breathed and reversed his car to help the man back inside and drive him to the second address, although it was way past his shift. Clement hoped to be home early, so he and his wife could buy their son, Anthony, his birthday presents. But this man had derailed his night.
He reached the second address and was helping the man out when an older woman came out, “Alex, my dear. Oh, Alex,” she breathed as she paid the cab fare and grabbed the man from Clement. “Thank you so much.”
Clement nodded and left. He would have to shop for his son’s birthday gifts tomorrow.
“I think this soccer ball is better,” Clement’s wife, Martha, said as they browsed through the sporting goods store. They were going to buy Anthony a brand new soccer ball, clothes, and shoes. He had just joined the local school team in New Jersey, and they thought he deserved to have new gear. Their family wasn’t wealthy – strictly blue-collar people – but Clement had been working extra hard these past few months to afford this.
When they exited the store with their purchases, Martha’s phone rang. “It’s Anthony’s school,” she said, frowning at the phone and pulling it to her ear. Suddenly, she gasped and hung up. “Anthony was hurt! We have to go to the hospital!”
They both ran to the parking lot, and Clement was on the verge of breaking a few laws trying to get there quicker.
“Your son has a fracture on his leg. He’s going to need surgery and physical therapy later to recover his full mobility,” the doctor revealed after examining the 11-year-old. “Luckily, he’s young. It’ll be fine, as long as we get that procedure done quickly.”
“Let’s do it,” Martha insisted. Clement nodded, but he was a bit more apprehensive. Unfortunately, they didn’t have insurance, and the surgery alone would cost so much money. Physical therapy was another expense they might not be able to afford. He would have to work extra to pay for some of these things.
They sat down in the waiting room while doctors took Anthony to surgery. “Honey, I left my sweater in the car. Can you go get it?” Martha asked. He agreed immediately because a walk would be better than sitting and waiting for any news.
When he reached his car, he saw Martha’s sweater on the backseat and picked it up. Suddenly, he noticed a wallet on the car floor that he hadn’t seen before. Upon checking it, he discovered it belonged to the drunken man last night. His name was Alex Mason. Then he also noticed the huge wad of cash it contained along with black credit cards.
But Clement was not the kind of man who would take money from others, no matter what was going on in his life. He always earned money, honestly. He counted the cash just in case the man asked. It was $1,600. Ok, I’ll drive it to him. It’ll be a distraction.
He took Martha her sweater and asked if it was alright to leave for a while to return the man’s wallet. “Oh, yes, dear. The nurse just came by and said it would take some time before they were finished. That man probably needs it. Go,” she insisted, and that’s why he loved her. She was always thinking of others, even when it was clear she needed support.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, yes. Go!”
Alex answered the door to the second address Clement took him to, which Clement assumed was his mother’s house, considering the older woman who had grabbed him the other night. “Hello, my name is Clement Freeman. I was your taxi driver last night. You left your wallet in my cab,” he said.
“Wow, man. Thank you for this,” Alex said, grabbing the wallet and looking at Clement as if he had given him a big prize. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“Well, I would say it’s just a wallet. But there’s a lot of cash inside. You really shouldn’t carry that much,” Clement replied matter-of-factly.
“Yeah well, but it’s not really about the wallet. That day… well, I don’t get drunk often… actually, ever. And never like that night. But that day, I discovered my wife was cheating on me with my personal driver. She’s pregnant now. I know it’s his because we recently went to a fertility clinic and were going to do IVF because of me,” Alex explained.
“Oh, man. That’s horrible,” Clement sympathized.
“Yeah, and I gave you our house address at first. But I didn’t want to see her. Thank you for driving me here that night. And not leaving me stranded. That was really kind.”
“Well, you paid me,” Clement added, shrugging again. He wanted to get back to his wife at the hospital immediately.
“But it was way too late. I remember that. Wait, let me pay you for today and something extra too for your time,” Alex said, reaching into the wallet and pulling the entire wad of cash. “Here.”
“No, no, no,” Clement responded, raising his hand and shaking his head. “It’s ok. I don’t need any money. Listen, I have to go. My wife is waiting for me at the hospital.”
“What? What happened? Is she ok?” Alex wondered. Clement thought it was weird that a stranger cared so much, but maybe, Alex was just friendly.
“No, it’s my son. He’s in surgery. And the doctor said something about physical therapy later. I have to arrange some things, so there’s a lot on my mind. Anyway, coming here was a great distraction from that. Take care, man,” Clement explained, finally bidding Alex goodbye and walking towards his car.
But Alex couldn’t let the man go just like that. He always repaid favors.
Unbeknownst to Clement, Alex grabbed his bike and followed him to the hospital. He asked around about Clement’s son, although he didn’t know their last name, and when no one would tell him anything, he called his dad. Mr. Mason was an influential man in New Jersey and had a way of getting people to talk. His dad got him the information.
He learned that Clement’s son, Anthony, had just been released from surgery, and it went well. Alex’s dad also discovered that the family didn’t have any insurance information. Maybe, he could pay for the surgery or more, Alex thought. Would Clement let me give him the money? Probably not.
A few months later…
“Honey, how are you paying for Anthony’s physical therapy? Tomorrow is his last appointment, and no one has talked to me about any payment,” Martha asked Clement one night after their son went to bed.
“Honestly, Martha, I have no idea what’s happening. I asked the receptionist at the clinic about payments, and she told me the bill would arrive in my mail. I didn’t know they did that, but I guess the clinic is a bit old-school,” Clement replied to his wife, not understanding why they were being so cryptic about payment.
“It’s just that normally you can’t get physical therapy without paying in advance. I know you have been working later this month because I’ve had to shorten my hours at the restaurant to take Anthony to his treatments. But I thought you might have been struggling alone. Are you lying to me?” Martha insisted, as her husband was exactly the kind of man who would not tell his wife about their money troubles.
“No! I swear I’m not lying. They haven’t sent me anything. Tomorrow, I’ll go with you and ask again. Because his surgery plus the treatments, well… we’re going to need a payment plan for that,” Clement tried to appease her.
“Actually, my friend, Marlene, was talking about certain kinds of welfare, and she thinks we could apply…,” Martha rattled on about some government assistance that could help with the costs. That would help, but Clement barely listened. Something odd was going on.
Health in this country was too expensive for the clinic to be putting off his payments. He had not wanted to think too hard about it before, but Martha brought it up. It was strange.
“Ok, kid. That’s it. You’re all better now. You can try out for the team again. But you need to be careful about it, or you might have to come back, ok?” Anthony’s physical therapist said with a smile, ruffling the child’s hair. Their son smiled at him and looked back at Martha.
“You see, Mom? I can try out again.”
“We’ll see about that later,” Martha said, rolling her eyes and giving Clement a knowing look. Her husband smiled but breathed deeply.
“Ok, I’ll go see about payments,” Clement said under his breath so only Martha could hear him. She nodded and distracted her son.
“Sir, why are you still asking about payments?” the nurse at the reception desk questioned him.
“Well, because my son had surgery months ago, and I still haven’t received a bill,” Clement replied, frustrated.
“We’ve sent the bills. Look, here’s the address,” the nurse turned her computer screen around and showed him the address on Anthony’s forms.
Clement’s mouth opened in shock while the nurse continued. “Every bill has been paid promptly, and now that your son has finished physical therapy, there’s nothing else to pay.”
He walked away from the reception, still in shock. Once they got home, he told Martha what had happened, and they both decided to visit Alex’s house to thank him and offer him a repayment plan.
But the man wouldn’t allow it. “You saved me from looking like a fool in my cheating soon-to-be-ex-wife’s front yard. So, no. You don’t owe me anything. In fact, how would you like a better job? I need a decent and reliable personal driver. The offer comes with benefits, including insurance for your family,” Alex said as if it was no big deal.
Clement couldn’t refuse such an offer and agreed immediately. He couldn’t believe helping a drunken man one night would lead to a new job and the incredible amount of money that his son’s treatment required.
What can we learn from this story?
Helping others can bring great surprises. We should help others when we can without expecting anything, but Clement was rewarded for his gesture.
Health treatments shouldn’t have to be so expensive. Getting surgery shouldn’t be a cause of worry for a family. You shouldn’t have to choose between your health and your economy.