I read this story online many years ago and think it worth sharing and repeating forever, so…..
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired.Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug.She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk.What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
I was just informed of someone even more insane and dangerous than Wahid Azal! But the parallels between them are striking. Both came from Iran and both settled in Australia. Both have acted like cult leaders at one time or another.
Verona van de Leur: The star gymnast who reinvented herself as a porn actress
The simple act of cartwheeling at the age of five begins Verona van de Leur’s story, a childhood passion which in turn led to a desire to be an Olympic gymnast.
In the intervening three decades, she became a Dutch national treasure known for her sporting prowess.
But injury curtailed her career and her life spiraled out of control. Locked out of the family home, she says she spent two years homeless and endured a fractious legal battle with her father.
Things got even worse when she was imprisoned, convicted of blackmail in 2011. She says she came within seconds of stepping in front of a train to end her life.
She says redemption came working as a porn actress and, now at the age of 34, Van de Leur has penned her autobiography, laying out details of her life.
She is adamant there are no regrets. Of her foray into the adult movie industry, which she says she stopped last year, Van de Leur told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell: “Actually no regrets because I was living on the streets … I would still do it, so I don’t have any regrets, not the way I did it, no.”
Engrossed by watching gymnastics at the 1996 Olympics, she set her heart on competing at the Games. The medals followed, with silver both at the World and European Championships. She was named Dutch sportswoman of the year in 2002 just before turning 17.
Lisa Deen, who works as a freelance sports journalist specializing in gymnastics, describes Van de Leur as “one of the greatest gymnasts in the Netherlands’ history.”
‘Left with a black hole’
To start with, Van de Leur loved the life of being a gymnast.
“It’s quite strange but it’s also fun of course — I mean you’re a teenager and everybody’s watching you in a good way, asking for an autograph, so it feels special, of course,” she says.
“Your parents are proud, your family’s proud, everybody’s talking positive about you. But you have all the pressures coming and you have to succeed at the next competition again and again.”
Trying to pinpoint when things began to unravel is hard for Van de Leur.
At times, she thinks it could have been as early as the age of nine when she took up gymnastics competitively.
What’s not in doubt is that the downward spiral started in 2003 following an injury. Suddenly, Van de Leur says, she had nothing.
“If I look back, it’s just a sport, a hobby you’re good at,” she says. “But at the time it was printed in my head, ‘This is what you are. You are only a gymnast’. And for me there was no life besides it … For the people around me, I was only that robot, only the gymnast and I didn’t have friends.
“So, if your sport is falling apart, there’s nothing left so you have this black hole.”
Van de Leur says her falling out of love with gymnastics reached its peak in 2008 when she announced to the media at the European Championships that she was walking away from the sport that had defined her life. She was just 22.
Her first reaction was happiness it was finally over, and for once she felt like she was taking control of her own life. However, when she told her parents, she says they remonstrated with her, concerned Van de Leur was turning her back on potential earnings.
In her opinion, their attitude was that “money was more important than their own daughter.” Around that time, she returned to the family home only to discover she was no longer welcome, she says.
‘Locked out of home’
CNN tried to contact Van de Leur’s father for comment via email, phone and social media but proved unsuccessful, as well as her sister.
“I tried the locks, I had a key as I was living there and you try it and it’s not working,” Van de Leur recalled. “You first think, well, it must be a mistake or I’ll just call home. They didn’t answer, they didn’t open and then I realized I wasn’t welcome anymore.”
So, she slept in her car with her boyfriend that night, first annoyed and then heartbroken that her family had rejected her. She says, “The last time I saw them was in court.”
A court summary of the case says Van de Leur argued that in 2008, her father, who acted as her agent, “withdrew an amount of €9,000 ($9768) from the claimant’s payment account without the consent or knowledge of the claimant, of which only part of the claimant was repaid or related to costs incurred on behalf of the claimant.”
She added: “I’ve asked for the accounting and where’s my sponsorship money and all the money I get from gymnastics when I won and it was just all gone. The only thing was to get justice to go to court so that’s what I did.”
An attorney listed as Van de Leur’s father’s lawyer at the time declined to comment to CNN citing code of conduct.
The court summary states that Van de Leur’s father argued that he had “incurred costs including moving the claimant’s personal property out of her trainer’s home, buying gifts for the trainer and her family, replacing locks in the defendant’s home and staying with family related to potential threats.”
However, in February 2009, a court of The Hague ordered her father to pay her €1,355.89 ($1471) as well as allow Van de Leur to return to his home to retrieve a number of items: a sunbed, tracksuits and leotards, and various presents, and to stop running a website in her name.
Reflecting on facing her parents in the court room, Van de Leur said: “From the beginning, I know I lost everything and money doesn’t get parents back.”
‘I wasn’t used to showing myself nude’
For two years after her family fallout, she says she was homeless. During that time, Van de Leur was arrested for trying to blackmail a couple having an extra marital affair — she was charged with extortion — which resulted in her spending 72 days in prison.
“In that time, being homeless, I didn’t care anymore how I got money for food,” she said.
“But even in that worst situation I know it was not my right to determine the law and, yes, I regret that I didn’t choose or find another option in that period of time. Maybe it’s good for me that I have been punished for 72 days to realize I was wrong, and I was.”
When out of jail, the adult industry — first as a webcam model and then making videos with her boyfriend — seemed a good way out. The couple is still together 13 years on.
“I saw it as a chance,” said Van de Leur. “It was a big contract so I could build something, starting my business. I was starting as a webcam model. It wasn’t physical contact, so computer screen was okay. I wasn’t used to showing myself nude, of course.”
The reaction in Holland to her dramatic career change, she says, was mixed, but having been homeless and in jail, Van de Leur saw her new job as offering her a fresh start.
“I didn’t say at the time I lived on the street or where I was coming from but for me this was actually a step up and they only saw that I was going down,” she said. “So, I kept it in my mind, it’s my life, it’s what I like to do and I always saw it as work.”
Van de Leur also made a return to the gymnastics world at the World Championships in Stuttgart last year where she worked as an analyst for the Dutch media, but she returned home prematurely before the event had finished.
As she reflects on the various twists and turns of her life, Van de Leur says she wishes she had been smarter at a younger age when her gymnastics career was taking off.
Above all these days she wants to embrace life — having come so close to ending it all.
It was amid the dispute with her family, that Van de Leur says she went to a railway line to kill herself.
“I went to the train and I was just counting from 10 to zero and I didn’t jump,” she recalled. “I don’t know why but it was really the moment that it could be all over.
“I was thinking about my family that I lost, I was living on the street, I had nothing, nothing to eat, no money in my hands, so I had nothing to live for.
“That was what I was thinking at that moment but, when the train just passed, I don’t know something snapped maybe. I still don’t know why I didn’t jump, I was crying and then just walked away.”
Now, Van de Leur says that moment gives her strength and that she’s learned to “enjoy every moment of her life.”
A harshly judgemental person would condemn her for going into porn, but she clearly only did that out of necessity because her own family rejected her for no longer being a source of income to them. If I had been this beautiful girl’s father, I would have loved and supported her even after she had quit being a gymnast, and encouraged her to pursue other interests as she got older. Then she might not have gone into porn.
But the ultimate hero in all this is the unnamed boyfriend. He never abandoned her, even after she went into porn and no doubt showed off her body to other guys to make money. That would have driven away most other love partners. But he stayed with her, even in the darkest times. He literally saved her life!
To me, having a healthy relationship with someone else is about first loving and respecting yourself and then learning to love and respect another person in exactly the same way and at all times. You must see that partner not as someone to possess and control, but as someone to add your own strengths and talents to. If you are not strong and independent on your own, then any relationship you have is likely to be abusive and a trap.
I’m going to post a series of short stories featuring characters I have made up. Allow me to introduce them.
“Daniel the Intellectual” – Scientist, father and strong critic of religion.
“Maria the Caretaker” – Wife of Daniel, artist and new age musician.
“Matthew the Warrior” – Son of Daniel and Maria, rock guitarist and singer for the Band of Messengers and computer gamer.
“Suzanne the Feminist” – Daughter of Daniel and Maria, rock singer and guitarist in the Band of Messengers, lesbian and a sworn enemy of the NRA and the Republican Party.
“Tommy the Comic” – Younger son of Daniel and Maria, drummer in the Band of Messengers, loves to tell jokes to make others look stupid, but also very loving to those he cares about.
“Lisa the Latina” – Romantic partner of Suzanne, joins the Band of Messengers as a bassist.
“Carla the Afro” – Matthew’s African-American girlfriend, joins the Band of Messengers as a keyboardist.Continue reading →
Once a group of criminals kidnapped the teenage daughter of a rich man and called the father a few hours later. They told him that if he did not pay them $100,000 within 24 hours, they would kill the girl. This was the father’s reply:
“So you believe in human sacrifice? The Aztecs did too! Are you descended from them? I heard that some cultures sacrificed virgins to gain favor with their gods. I know my daughter has a boyfriend, so would you like to ask him if they have had sex? As for the 100,000 dollars, did you know that the largest dollar bill ever printed by the U.S. Mint was in that amount? Sadly, no such bills are in circulation today, I would so love to have one! With all the billionaires in the world, we would find such bills extremely useful for special transactions. Anyway, I’m sure once you kill my daughter you will either find someone else to kidnap or the police will hunt you down before you can pull that off. In any case, you won’t get a cent from me! I’m a rich man for a reason and one of those reasons is my refusing to merely throw away money for trivial causes…..and giving money to someone who has not earned it is as trivial as it gets…..unless you consider kidnapping someone to be hard work, of course!”
The kidnappers were so gobsmacked by the rich father’s callous attitude that they soon released the girl.
It would be a much easier world to live in if everyone would simply get along, but there would be no challenges for people to overcome and learn from regarding relationships. Perhaps peace is something that must be earned as a reward for hard work and patience, not merely given to those who don’t deserve it. War and violence may be considered a punishment in themselves on people for harboring hatred towards others and insisting on having one’s own way.
(Note: I wrote this in five minutes out of boredom while sitting in a college class about 20 years ago and then had it typed up and printed out from a computer several years ago. Imagine my surprise when I found later that my mother had taken that printout and put it in a picture frame!)
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
No, not really, but I find it amazing that when I google my own name, I see that I have a massive internet presence and my writings can be found all over the World Wide Web by people all over the world. I feel like a celebrity!
But there are also people who seem to have the same name as me!
So you got rejected by a woman and then she decided to marry another guy. You could have done the honorable thing and just kept silent about it and minded your own business. Instead, you reacted with this!
Today I was accused by an enemy of mine of misusing the term “intellectual” by applying it to myself. That would only be valid if in fact someone could prove that I was not intellectual. First we need definitions of “intellectual”:
appealing to or using the intellect; “satire is an intellectual weapon”; “intellectual workers engaged in creative literary or artistic or scientific labor”; “has tremendous intellectual sympathy for oppressed people”; “coldly intellectual”; “sort of the intellectual type”; “intellectual literature”
of or associated with or requiring the use of the mind; “intellectual problems”; “the triumph of the rational over the animal side of man”
cerebral: involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct; “a cerebral approach to the problem”; “cerebral drama”
An intellectual is one who tries to use his or her intellect to work, study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas.
There are, broadly, three modern definitions at work in discussions about intellectuals. First, ‘intellectuals’ as those deeply involved in ideas, books, the life of the mind. Second, ‘intellectuals’ as a recognizable occupational class consisting of lecturers, professors, lawyers, doctors, scientist, engineers, etc. Third, cultural “intellectuals” are those of notable expertise in culture and the arts, expertise which allows them some cultural authority, and who then use that authority to speak in public on other matters.
Some people, including the one who attacked me today, seem to think that intellecuals must express no emotions, like the Vulcans of Star Trek. That strikes me as unrealistic, since all humans do have emotions. It is the combination of intellect and emotions in people that make their characters what they are. To call myself intellectual is hardly unethical, if one can read my writings and see for themselves what I am capable of.