“A new Bedford story:
The tales of how bad this city is could hang a cathedral, but threads like this remain largely unheard of and should be told as such.
A man does what he can, when he can, with what he has.
He does his job(s), puts his time into it and does things he has to do that no one can imagine in some very private moments.
He dances around stability, common sense, generosity and civility, but he does it because a man takes care of his family – even if he is called by the “family” and so-called “friends”.
But he plods on.
Being the best and only one he can, regardless of the selfish chatter, the ones he sacrifices himself for remain in baths. So he works.
He works and earns. Earns and pays. Pays and fails. Failed and pays.
And then one night the man is hired to transport others for a fee. He’s done this before, but tonight is different.
It is felt immediately – there is a certain tension in this night; he knows this will be a transport unlike any other. He thinks he is transporting people, but his soul is about to be moved a galaxy or a million galaxies away from here. The task is simple: transport a family to a Coldplay concert at Gillette Stadium.
The details are not so simple: this family, although happy and festive, is fighting a demon. A beast that knows no color, sex, race or party affiliation. Cancer has tried to claim them and their clan’s ancestress.
She is a warrior.
Brave and, let me tell you, Beautiful when they come; There is nothing more awe-inspiring than seeing a survivor raise his fist in spite of the plague that is cancer.
He picks them up and takes them to a show that is EXCELLENT, only to discover that it’s not the music, the band or the venue that matters – it’s their love.
Sean G FitzGerald photo.
They rejoice before, during, but especially after.
Mother is tired. Tired. She has given so much but continues to smile and give to her two teenagers because tonight is about that. It’s about Now.
It’s about, no matter what, we Love Now and Always.
And the night is so perfect. Tears, hugs, love and a peaceful ride home. He knows he is blessed with this assignment.
He’s seen this, smelled it and been before – but this isn’t his time to spend the night – they need to go home. And he does just that, because that’s his fucking job.
His heart is heavy, because as he drives home to his love, he remembers the life that has gone by, lost love and missed opportunities. It’s a long drive from Rochester to Dartmouth on a low gas tank, but he hadn’t thought of that since he’d arrived to take the transport vehicle.
He finally went to work that week at his 71st hour, and when he arrived he saw the gaslight glowing, but ignored it to do its job.
Ignored before then, because the next job is just around the corner.
So it is 2 o’clock in the morning.
On the way back from Rochester and his car has run out of gas at 195 West.
He slides down, takes exits to get as close to a gas station as possible, and his car dies out as he pulls out of the Pleasant St exit into the Weld Square neighborhood.
50-year-old white man in a shirt and tie broken down in Weld Square at 2:00 a.m.
He stops, throws it in the park and laughs. This is the city in which he was born. The city in which he has succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed. no communication with the “secure world”. He laughs and wonders. Then a white truck stops.
The man in the passenger seat asks if he needs help, which of course he does.
He explains his situation and the man in the truck says that he would like to go get some gas, but has little money.
So our hero throws all caution to the wind and tells him to take some $$$ from him and please go get some gas.
The passenger gladly accepts and promises to come back.
He has no change except a $50 bill, but he has no choice but Faith.
No faith in God, Trump, Jesus or Picasso, but faith in the human mind and he knows, he doesn’t guess, he KNOW this is what to believe in.
So the money is given and the truck and the accommodative passenger drive off, promising to return.
10 min.15 min.30 min.
His phone miraculously springs to life and he panics and betrays his faith and calls his wife.
And, as he explains, the passenger stops in the truck to explain and apologize for the wait, but that they had to go to 3 different stations to find a tank.
The passenger then goes to our hero’s tank and accelerates to start it.
He shakes hands with our hero and promptly refuses cash for his time.
Instead, he committed to a hug that I believe I needed more than him. We took this photo and said goodbye. He told me his name, but through the tears I forgot and felt terrible. I want to thank you, but until now I didn’t know how to reach him and how to compose this – yes it took a year! I believe he said his name was “Buddy”.
So when anyone talks about how bad this city is, remember that a city isn’t bad, it’s the people who occupy it that give it its identity!
And this 50-year-old homeboy who has spent time in and out of this town will forever exclaim, “THIS is why I LOVE NEW BEDFORD!!!” – Sean G Fitz Gerald.