years ago I drove a taxi for extra money. I primarily worked the east end of
Toronto. This was back in the days when the Greenwood Racetrack was in
The track was a pretty lively place. Crowds of people were always streaming in
and out. I did a lot of business down there dropping off fares and picking them
up. When I think of those days, I remember one particular summer about 30 years
Each time a taxi drove up to the front of the track, a group of local kids would
run along the sidewalk angling for position by the passenger door. One lucky
kid, or to be more accurate the most aggressive kid, would open the passenger
door and say “Good luck at the track, Mister!”
The man getting out of the cab would invariably mumble thanks and flip the kid a
quarter on his way from the taxi to the entrance of the track.
It was a routine that everybody knew. Sometimes the cops would chase these kids
away but they always came back a couple of hours later or the next day.
Throughout the summer, one kid caught my eye. He was bigger than most of them
but he was pushed away by even the smallest of all the other kids. He never
pushed back. In fact he would even step aside when others pushed forward. He was
actually courteous in the midst of all these aggressive kids.
Each time my cab or any other cab drove up it was another chance to be the one
to open the door and say, “Good luck Mister!” and maybe get a quarter. This kid
never stopped trying. He would watch the cab approach, figure out where it would
stop along the sidewalk and then try his best to get to the door. He never made
it. He always got pushed aside. But he never gave up.
Then one day his chance arrived.
As I was pulling up to the sidewalk all the kids were scrambling for a cab that
had arrived just ahead of mine. They didn’t notice me pulling up.
The boy saw me and walked toward my taxi. As I pulled up I made sure to position
the passenger door right beside him. He didn’t miss a beat. He opened the
passenger door with a flourish and said to the man getting out, “Good luck at
the track, Mister!”
But the man who got out of my cab did not say thanks. He did not flip him a
quarter. He said, “Get out of my way kid!” and he pushed him aside so hard that
the boy fell on the sidewalk and I knew it hurt him bad.
I was out of the cab in less than 10 seconds but I knew I would never find the
man that pushed this boy down. He was gone in the crowd.
So I looked for the kid. I decided to give him $20 for the
effort and gumption that I had watched him go through. By the time I spotted him
he was far up ahead, walking away through the crowd, hands in his pockets and
his head hanging down. I could not get to him. The other cabs behind mine were
honking their horns and drivers were screaming obscenities at me, telling me to
move the cab. The traffic cop was waving at me to get back in my taxi and get
The kid was walking the opposite way. By the time I got the cab turned around I
lost sight of him. All I could do was pound my fist on the steering wheel.
I never saw him again.
Over time I have thought about that kid. I thought I would like to find him one
day and tell him that if only he had stuck around a little longer I would have
given him a whole $20 instead of the lousy quarter he was after, because I was
so struck by his spirit.
After 30 years I realized that maybe I learned an important lesson from this
kid. And maybe I am supposed to pass it along.
When things seem so hopeless that you are ready to give up, that is the time
when things are most likely to turn around for you. One day we will all be
recognized for how we tried. Not necessarily for what we did.
So don’t ever let up or walk away from integrity, because it will be the reason
for your reward.
of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people
who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.-Dale