I am sad to report that I heard from his Mother that he passed away on Tuesday. She reached out to me to thank me for my actions, and to tell me, as many others did when I brought the food, that I gave her a little more faith in humanity. Such feedback was not my intent, but not NOT my intent, either. I wanted to spread a little mirth to someone who needed it. I touched many others too, apparently.
I’d like to use the occasion of the passing of a fellow redditor as a reminder, an object lesson. People should seize the opportunity to do nice things for one another whenever the chance arises. Reddit is not always an environment where that philosophy is expressed. The anonymity provided by reddit works for many reasons, but it can also create an environment where people take the opportunity to NOT restore other's faith in humanity by doing nice things, to NOT connect, and to sometimes be unkind.
Today, I chose not to be anonymous anymore. My efforts to stay that way lead me to not hang out with /u/texnation when I dropped off his tacos. I was in and out in less than 10 seconds – no joke – only long enough to deliver his food, wish him a speedy recovery, and to tell him that I didn’t want his money. I asked that he pay the favor forward somehow. I didn't think then that I would have had a chance to further brighten his day. When the media caught wind of the story, he and I connected and spoke not as redditors, but as people. We used our real names – he knew my name, and I his, and that made our connection more valuable. His real name was, indeed, Texas Nation, and he was a really nice person.
So, with that, my real name is Sam Poley. As some have speculated, accurately I should add, my job is to promote Durham as the Director of Public Relations and Communications for the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. But please do not let that knowledge cloud the truth of my actions. I did what I did for Texas not because I have the job I have – one does not promote visitation by bringing tacos to hospital patients. I did that with my own time and my own money. I did that for the same reason I smile, say please and thanks, and give money to those in need – I did it to brighten Texas’s day. It worked, and lots of people from around the world said thanks to me for my actions. I didn't do it for the thanks. I did it for him – a stranger in need.
It is my hope that each of you read this and think about it, and maybe even that you are motivated to change the way you think – to change an action such that it becomes a change in habit. Maybe we can all be a little nicer, a little more generous, and a little more honest. Maybe if I had been a little more thoughtful, I could have had a conversation with a guy in a hospital bed that would have left him feeling even better than the food alone did.
I know that I positively impacted his life to the point that his family was aware of the exchange – his Mother told me so in her message. I’d like to believe that we can all have that kind of positive impact, and hope this is encouragement for each of us to try.
On the subject of my future posts, I ask for your consideration. My job is to bring stories to audiences in the hope that they will be moved to action – in this case to visit Durham. Mostly, I do that by sharing opportunities to have experiences here.
Do with those posts what you will, but please know they are not spam, as some have suggested. They are the result of one person’s view that the reddit community is more than a group of anonymous usernames. It is a wickedly smart audience, many very funny people, and a whole lot of folks who might be interested in visiting, or knowing more about, Durham…all of whom have daily opportunities, literally or metaphorically, to bring tacos to folks in hospitals.
RIP Texas. You taught me a lesson, and maybe this is the way you are paying it forward. Thanks to all for reading.