This is a story of empathy brought you by StoryCorps, a radio show that shares stories from ordinary people. Julio Diaz, the storyteller, gives us a shining case in point about choosing love over fear, just like in “No Such Thing as Monsters”. The acceptable response was anger and violence, but Julio chose love and empathy. Listen to his story below, or read the transcript.

Julio Diaz gets his wallet back "Julio Diaz gets his wallet back"

Transcript of the audio:

So I get off the train, I’m walking toward the stairs, and this young teenager pulls out a knife. He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, “here you go.”

He starts to leave and as he’s walking away, I’m like, “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.”

He’s looking at me like, what’s going on here? He asked me, “Well, why are you doing this?”

I’m like, “Well, I don’t know man. 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 go get dinner, and if you really want to join me, hey, you’re more than welcome.” So I’m like, “Look, you can follow me if you want.” I just felt, maybe he really needs help.

So, we go into the diner where I normally eat, we sit down in the booth, and the manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi. The kid was like “Man, you know everybody here, do you own this place?”

I’m like, “No, I just eat here a lot.”

He’s like, “But you’re even nice to the dishwasher!”

I’m like, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

So he’s like, “Yeah, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way.”

So I just asked him in the end, I’m like, “What is it that you want out of life?”

He just had almost a sad face. Either he couldn’t answer me or he didn’t want to.

The bill came and I look at him, and I’m like, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill, because you have my money and I can’t pay for this, so… If you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

He didn’t even think about it, he’s like “Yeah, okay, here you go.” He gave me my wallet back.

And I gave him $20, I figured maybe it’ll help him, I don’t know. And when I gave him the $20, I asked him to give me something in return: his knife. And he gave it to me.

It’s funny because when I told my mom about what happened, no mom wants to hear this but, she said, you were always the type of kid that if someone asked you the time you’d give them your watch. I don’t know, I figure that if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.