Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

He Rode His Bike through Town, Delivering a Gift of Happiness

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

He Rode His Bike through Town, Delivering a Gift of Happiness

Article excerpt

There was a row of shops not far from the house in which I grew up. Many needs were met by those all stores: food, dry cleaning, a drug store, barbershops, a paper store, a small Chinese restaurant.

Benny rode his bike near the shops every day. His bike had a large metal basket on the front wheel fender and in that basket Benny placed the goods he was sent to deliver by the various owners of the shops. There were days when his basket was so full that his front wheel wobbled. He never seemed to mind those times when he had a full load. Other days he had less to deliver, and his bike was far easier to balance.

When I knew him, Benny was about 50 years old. He was mentally impaired. His world was that bike and the places it took him. I used to see him in other parts of town on Sundays, riding around with an empty basket. I did not know where he lived, and the thought never crossed my mind as to who cared for him.

He always waved to everyone he passed and smiled at people he did not recognize. Many on our street knew him and tipped him when he made deliveries to their homes. His life was one of very simple and modest exchange. I suppose the storeowners paid him something. Little did I realize then the remarkable quality of a particular good he delivered to anyone who was fortunate enough to be on his route.

He was a happy man.

I moved from that area, and it was not long before I found myself in a much larger market space. I was becoming a part of a world where success and happiness meant very narrow things. It was and is a world where the slow paced and ungifted would quickly fall behind, never to catch up. It is a world in which so many people have so much they thought would bring them happiness, but they feel an aching emptiness.

Benny did not know about such things. All he had were his bike, his deliveries, the streets and people he loved. …

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