Tonya Rising

April 18, 2017

On Christmas Day in 1959, a Twilight Zone episode entitled “What You Need” appeared for the very first time on television.

The episode focused upon a kind, but mysterious, elder gentleman who peddled odd items from his suitcase in traveling salesman fashion in an unnamed large city.  His power to understand ‘what you needed’ shortly before you actually required an individual item that he happened to have, raised the curiosity of a brutish man at the bar in a restaurant.

The man at the bar–down on his luck and mad at the world–looked for any reason to take advantage of the kindly elder gentleman and his gift for “knowing the future”.  Concern over the size of the National Debt was also referenced as a means of telegraphing just how bad things were in the country; thus giving the disgruntled man at the bar another reason hate his life.  **(For the record, the National Debt in 1959 was $285 billion dollars, compared to today’s almost $20 trillion dollars, but that is another story for a different blog post…)

So he bullied, cheated, and stole the ‘gift’ that the elder gentleman possessed in an attempt to enrich himself.  He didn’t want to ‘work for it’, or ‘change his course in life’…he simply wanted to ‘take’ from others. In the end, he got what he deserved…

Enter Tonya, a kind Über driver whose services I desperately needed the night of April 3rd in Atlanta:

I needed Tonya to drive me two hours away to Montgomery, Alabama because all of my connecting flights had been canceled due to weather issues. I tried several drivers, but even after accepting the fare, they declined to drive me.  Apparently, they didn’t realize how far they would have to travel upon acceptance …even though the fare was quite substantial.

Tonya had every reason to hate the world if she wanted.  She was adopted, and had some issues with less than charitable persons along life’s path.  She was an aspiring actress who moved from the San Francisco Bay area to continue to pursue her dreams, which were very difficult to fulfill.  She had experienced a troubled marriage, and struggled with money at times…but unlike the brutish man from the Twilight Zone, Tonya was totally upbeat.  We talked for the entire two hour trip, knowing she had to turn around and drive all the way back to Atlanta!  She described how her entire life she worked for others’ well-being…especially at Christmastide when she would make up bags of gifts for the homeless…which always contained ‘one-size-fits-all’ winter gloves for everyone.

She was happy to have the large Über fare, and I gave her a generous cash tip for taking me so far.  She was happy in life, and loved helping others.  She wanted to work for a living, and also wanted to work toward her dreams.  Her hope was to rise up higher each day despite the negatives that surrounded her.  I salute her in this blog post, which I told her I was going to write.  I had the title before I wrote a single word:

Tonya Rising

And I surely hope that this is exactly what she will do.

Thank you Madame for the ride, and thank you for the life affirming work ethic.  We enjoyed our ride together, and I wish you Godspeed. 

(A post-Easter blog post on the subject of rising, seemed like a good time to tell this story; especially after spending a wonderful weekend with family over this most blessed of holidays.  We were all raised high over the Easter weekend, with much of that feeling being the result of attending church services which focus on the ‘Risen Christ’, and a Mass honoring my late brother.  But it was so much more enjoyable in the presence of family and loved ones.)