He was retired of course. He could never live on this salary alone, but he loved his job. More than anything, he liked working with the people. He had taken the job to earn grocery money, but now he saw it as doing his part to help others. He grew to love the people. Most people would call his riders “disabled”, but he didn’t. He saw them as people first, not being defined by their limitations. Joe Cappelli was a blessed man, to be able to do what he was doing, and he knew it.
Every day he had a route and picked up only certain passengers. They mostly needed to go to doctor appointments, sometimes to dialysis, or to the county health center. But he also took them to one of his favorite places, the library. Each one had a caregiver, some were appointed and some had family members taking care of them. The family members always had the toughest job on earth, trying to take care of their child, pouring their heart and soul, and all of their energy, into taking care of someone else. Many were frazzled, or emotionally drained, and needed to take care of themselves more.
As he drove he would often talk to the caregiver, giving them words of encouragement, and reminding them to not forget to take care of themselves. But he always talked to the patients as well. Some people had the terrible habit of ignoring patients, even at the clinic, or the doctor’s office. When they did, he burned with anger. He would restrain himself, but he would say something like, “You know Bobbie can hear you!” or “Why don’t you talk to Sarah, she’s sitting right here.”
Sarah Chung brightened up his life. He loved this nine year old, with the smile that would melt the hardest of hearts. She was so alive! Her parents had abandoned her at birth, presumably because she had Down’s syndrome. Twice a week he would take her to her appointments and to the library. She loved books! He also liked her caregiver, Emma Sanchez. Emma was about his age, and she had a great personality. She was originally from Peru, and he loved her accent. She was well…um…pretty, to say the least! He and Emma became good friends.
He wasn’t sure if he and Emma would ever become lovers, but he loved being able to talk to her. They often went out for coffee, or to the movies. His wife and left him years ago for someone else, and he realized Emma was bringing healing into his life. He trusted Emma like no one else.
Another patient he grew to love was Scottie Thompson. Scottie was a fighter. Everyday Scottie fought MS (multiple sclerosis). At fourteen Scottie had more courage than most grown men he had met. Scottie also had kidney problems and he took him three times a week to dialysis. When Scottie’s health began to fail, Joe spent his off hours at the hospital. He would talk, and read to Scottie, mostly from history books, because that’s what Scottie was into, British history in particular. Scottie’s family grew to love Joe, and often told him to go home and get some rest!
Joe was reading to Scottie about Charles II, when Scottie slipped into a comma, and never returned. It was only a few days later, when Scottie was gone. Joe cried like a baby. It seemed like all the grief he had ever felt but had never let out, came to the surface, right there in the hospital waiting room. Emma was with him, and it was her love that pulled him back out of the pit of sorrow, over the next couple of weeks. Joe remained good friends with Scottie’s family over the years. He was often invited for dinner, and loved his times with them.
But over the years this type of experience occurred again, and again. Joe poured his life into people, and he was loved for it. In fact, he became the most popular, and loved bus driver in the city. He won civil service awards, and would always say, he didn’t deserve the award, he just loved helping people.
The mayor gave him the key to the city, and gave Joe a Lifetime Achievement Award, when Joe finally did need to retire because of his own health. There’s a plaque in City Hall to this day, and it says:
In Memory of Joe Cappelli
An Ordinary Man
Who Loved People
and Made a Difference
Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree
images from google