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A Memorable Soul


One snowy day in early 1993, I made my way to a subway station near the University of Toronto, ready to go home after a long day of classes.  My heart sank when I opened my wallet to find that I had run out of subway tokens. With no credit card or cash to my name, I thought over my options and decided that the best action was to ask for help.

I vividly remember the kind lady who saved me that day - she wore a long plaid winter coat, perfectly round spectacles, and had the look of a graduate student or young professor. When she stepped outside from the revolving door of the Bay subway station, I made eye contact and explained that I had lost track of my token count and was wondering if she could lend me a single subway token to get home. If she would give me her name and address, I promised to pay her back.

I must have looked pretty pitiful and ashamed of my predicament, as she reached into her wallet without hesitation and gave me a subway token. When I asked for her address so that I could compensate her, she gave me a friendly wave and said "no worries," the first time in my young life that I had heard that expression.

I never saw her again, but that moment and her willingness to help a complete stranger remains with me all these years later, and I imagine it's a memory that I'll cherish for the rest of my days.

The other evening while our younger son was meeting with friends in downtown Toronto, I made my way over to the campus of the University of Toronto, curious to see how much the area has changed over the past 30 years. I walked past the entrance to the Bay subway station and felt a warmth within as I remembered that day when a complete stranger showed me the beautiful kindness that exists in our world. With that moment in mind, I bought a small mountain of 3-packs of mochi rice cakes from an express Korean grocery store, and over the course of a nostalgic walk around campus, experienced the great pleasure of surprising people of all walks and ages with fresh rice cake.

Two things I took away from that magical evening: first, if life presents an opportunity to revisit a place where you grew up or went to school, I wouldn't hesitate to take it - what a wondrous feeling it is to breathe in places where you experienced countless triumphs and struggles many years ago. And second, there is magic in remembering people who have been a blessing to you, and honouring their goodness by paying their kindness forward.


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Thank you for the story of the woman at the subway station who gave you a token to get home and said “no worries”. That’s an Australian expression and their culture has a mateship of helping one another that’s a beautiful thing. I’m inspired by your story and hope to get back to my old schools and places of my youth. It must be very reflective and beneficial to the soul.

Very beneficial to the soul, indeed, Rebecca. I hope that you enjoy the journey back to those places. - Ben