Posted by: charityliz | September 27, 2010

random person + random prayer = sweet train ride

I had a sweet moment on the train today. I was on my way to work this morning and the attendant came through the train car, as he usually does, asking for everyone’s ticket. When he stopped at the woman in the seat in front of me, she was suddenly in a frantic search for her ticket—dumping her purse, emptying her pockets and even spilling her coffee in the process.

Frankly, I would be doing the same, because if you don’t have a ticket—it’s a whopping $250 fine—NO EXCUSES! This policy on CalTrain is really strict. I’ve definitely seen people get fined, and I’ve heard that exceptions are super rare. And this did not look like it would be one of them. The attendant was trying to be understanding and patient as the woman searched and explained, but he was also very clear that he was going to have to write her a citation if she didn’t have a ticket.

So of course, I totally felt bad for this woman, as she’s fumbling everywhere for her ticket, trying to explain that she just had it and that she rides the train everyday. PAUSE: Now in this moment, the cynic in me wondered if she really did buy her ticket. PLAY: But the overwhelming part of me just really felt awful for this woman, and I believed that she actually did buy her ticket. As matter of fact, I could somehow see myself in her shoes on some random day. I mean, even when you’re in the habit of getting your ticket and boarding the train everyday, weird stuff happens. You drop your keys and when you pick them up, you unknowingly drop your ticket. Or you get a phone call right as you’re buying your ticket, you answer the phone, and who knows where you shove the ticket. Stuff like that.

So as I’m sitting there, relating and empathizing, I just decide that I might as well send up a prayer—earnestly asking that justice prevail—if she actually had bought her ticket (which only God knows at this point), then the attendant would somehow let it slide this time. PAUSE: Now I know this might be sounding like I’m super-Christian at this point, but let me assure you, I am usually half asleep on the train in the morning, much less aware of anything happening. Unfortunately, this kind of prayer is not a normal occurrence for me on the AM train.

After another minute of the woman trying to convince him that she actually did have her ticket, the attendant finally conceded and said “OK, the Good Lord must be looking out for you; you can just get off at the next stop” (which happened to be her stop anyway).

Now some might call this coincidence, but I call this providence. Plain and simple. And I was thrilled at the sight of God answering such a small prayer (and the over-analyzer in me was, at the same time, wondering why He doesn’t answer other more “important” prayers in my life sometimes)—but overall I was thrilled for her.

Furthermore, I felt compelled to tell her. Not like some weird preacher evangelist…but just a pat on the shoulder and a little word of encouragement, “now that was an answer to prayer”…..but the woman had hopped off the train without a moment to lose, thanking the conductor profusely on her way out. No time for me to get a word in edge wise.

Of course, I was still thankful at this commuter’s sweet victory over what could have been a very bad awful no good Monday morning! I was just a little bummed that I didn’t get a chance to share the victory with her.


I didn’t take my usual train back home today (long story) and because it was running late, I also did not sit in the typical car or seat that I normally sit in. A few stops down the line, a woman gets on and sits in the seat directly in front of me, and I was SHOCKED to find that it was the same woman that was sitting in front of me on this morning’s train! I mean, hundreds of people were on that train—and there are all kinds of trains going back and forth at that time of day….WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?

So, even though I hesitated for a moment (since I never really strike up conversation with strangers on the train), I couldn’t help but asking “excuse me, did you lose your ticket on the train this morning? (just to make sure it was really her)

“Yes, I couldn’t believe that was happening to me…I always have a ticket!” she exclaimed.

“I know, I watched the whole thing and felt so bad for you. But, I gotta tell you, I also started praying that somehow the attendant would let you off the hook. And I don’t know if you believe in a god, but I think He was watching out for you this morning.”

“Oh, yes, I do—but man—that’s a story to call home to mom about!” She seemed to appreciate the connection and the extra boost that my side of the story added to what she already felt was her fortune for the day.

That made my day.



  1. I love seeing the Lord work!

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