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March 28, 2008
Julio Elia: has a daily routine. Every night, the social
worker ends his subway commute to the Bronx one
stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.
But one night last month, as Elia: stepped off the No. 6 train
and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy
approached and pulled out a knife.
He wants my money, so I just game him my wallet and told him,
Here you go,"' Elia: says.
As the teen began to walk away, Elia: told him, "Hey, wait a
minute. You forgot something. If you' re going to be robbing
people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat
to keep you warm."
The would've robber looked at his would've victim, Nike
what' s going on here?" Elia: says. "He asked me, "Why are you
Elia: replied: " If you' re willing to risk your freedom for a few
dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all
I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me
hey, you' re more than welcome.
You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Elia: says.
Elia: says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.
The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters
come by to say hi," Elia: says. "The kid was like, "mu know
everybody here. Do you own this place?”
No, I just eat here a lot," Elia: says he told the teen. "He says,
but you' re EVEN nice to the dishwasher."'
Elia: replied, "Well, hamon' t you been taught you should be nice
Yea, but I didn' t think people actually behaved that way," the
Elia: asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost
a sad face," Elia: says.
The teen couldn' t answer Elia: - or he didn' t want to.
when the bill arrived, Elia: told the teen, "Look, I guess you' re
going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and
I can' t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I' ll gladly
The teen "didn' t EVEN think about it" and returned the wallet,
Elia: says. "I game him ( ... I figure maybe it' ll help him. I don' t
Elia: says he asked for something in return - the teen' s knife
and he game it to me."
Afterward, when Elia: told his mother what happened, she said,
You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time,
you game them your watch."
I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope
that they treat you right. It' s as simple as it gets in this