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Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Tocayos

How a stranger’s act of kindness changes everything

My friend Marco has been working on turning his life around for years. He’s in his early 50’s and recently went back to college to get the certificates he needs for the job he wants. He told me the most beautiful story today.

He was on his way to school and running a little behind. He noticed an open photo album laying in the ground with some other papers and books around it. He thought to pick it up and see whose it was, but he was running late and so he kept going.

On his way back a few hours later, he saw the album still laying in the grass, but this time it had been kicked and opened. Probably someone was looking for money in there. He got to his car, put the key in the ignition and something felt very off to him. He told me, “ I don’t want to live my life and pass by something that could be really important to someone else,” so he took the key out of the ignition and walked back to the site where all the stuff was strewn.

As he walked back, the story he crafted in his head was that this guy’s car was probably broken into and the thieves tossed this seemingly useless stuff out the window. The guy was probably freaking out.

When he got to the grassy patch and glanced at the album, he saw smiling Latino faces peering back at him. He took a closer look and saw all kinds of important documents in there; a birth certificate, a high school diploma and important citizenship papers. He also saw pictures of children, grandparents and some sweet memorabilia.

Marco was right.

The man’s car had been stolen and all the stuff in the backseat was tossed in the getaway. He was a 25 year old man who was enrolled in his local community college. In the pile of stuff, there was also a Narcotics Anonymous book. It turns out this young man has been trying to turn his life around from addiction.

His parents came from Mexico when he was one and he didn’t speak any Spanish, only English. My friend Marco is also Mexican, in a Twelve Step program, and sober from a drug addiction.

Marco was deeply touched at how synchronistic this chance meeting was. As he looked through the papers in search of contact information, he saw the young man’s name.

Marco. They were tocayos, Marco told me and I could feel the joy and love coming through in his words. In Spanish, tocayos is a term of endearment that represents when two people share the same name — a namesake.

Young Marco thanked my friend Marco for taking the time to pick up his albums, for calling him and arranging a meeting. He had been very upset about his car being stolen and losing all of his important and sentimental stuff. He opened his wallet to offer Marco some money.

Marco told him, “Oh I don’t want your money. But this is going to cost you a lot more than money.”

Young Marco looked nervous.

Marco said, “This is going to cost you a promise.”

Young Marco’s Promise List:

  1. Finish school
  2. Work your Twelve Steps
  3. Live a happy life
  4. Be kind to others
  5. Be a good example for Hispanic kids

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