One thing I learned from sitting in traffic is that nothing ever happens. Yup, exactly, hours of ‘nothing ever happens’. Thousands of people staring into their phones, waiting for the lights to change.
On this particular day, however, God prepared something very special for me, I met Reggie.
You know that awkward moment at the stoplight when a man or woman in need walks by your window asking for some pocket change and you start anxiously pretending to be looking at your phone? That’s how I met Reggie.
He approached my car with his tiny jar looking for change, I reached into my wallet to see if I had any, and all I could find was a $20 bill. “That’s too much for him”, I thought. At this time, as he was close enough to me so that I could see his face. I was stunned! I have never seen anything like that before. His face was disfigured from burn marks and his speech was affected.
I didn’t feel any fear or pity, I just remember having a very clear thought that this man needs the $20 bill in my wallet way more than I did. The man said ‘thank you’, and kept going.
Have you ever met someone with a story? This man had a story, and I decided I wanted to learn it.
As he was walking away, I said:
What’s your name?
Reggie, he said.
What happened to you, Reggie? Considering his looks, I thought that’s a questions he’s been asked many times before.
I was in a fire.
Did your house catch on fire?
No, I set myself on fire…
I was stunned. Why would anyone set themselves on fire? I couldn't squeeze a word out for some time. The light was about to change, but I was determined to find out more. I asked Reggie if I could come back to hear his story, and he kindly agreed.
I was back on Reggie’s corner 2 days later. In the next 8 minutes you’ll hear his story. This accidental encounter has brought a lot of positivity in my life. I only ask that you pay close attention to what he’s got to say. His current attitude towards life, driven by the conclusions he made through his difficult times, is just as important as the journey itself.
We honk at other cars in traffic, we cuss at slow drivers, we are so angry and impatient all the time. And then, there’s Reggie. He carries the burden and pain of his prior mistakes, and yet there’s not a glimpse of negativity. Reggie isn’t blaming anyone, he isn’t out for revenge or justice. Reggie is, for me, a refreshing reminder to be grateful and aware of all the beautiful people and precious moments in our lives. He also reminded me that there is always more to someone than what appears on the surface. We’re too quick to judge, to place a label and dismiss, to hide our faces in our phones to avoid eye contact.
So, my friend, stop for a moment and listen. After all, you might be sitting in traffic right now, and someone with a story like Reggie’s could be walking past you.
In 2010 after working in Finance for nearly 5 years Matt Hein quit his job and headed off to follow his dreams.
After living and working in the French Alps he moved to Oslo, Norway where he has resided since 2012. There he put his previous experience and training to good use, combining it with his passion for dogs and nature, launching his own dog-walking company.
Shot on a canon 5d mkii with canon 24 f/1.4 (version 1) with the zacuto rapid fire, Zoom H4N and a sennheiser g2 wireless lav. The zacuto was really great at being there when I needed it but also staying out of the way.
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