“I Figure, You Know, If You Treat People Right, You Can Only Hope that They Treat You Right. It’s as Simple as It Gets in This Complicated World”

In February 2008, Julio Diaz, then age 31, got off the subway one stop early, as usual, so he could eat at his favorite diner. This time, a teenage boy with a knife mugged him. Mr. Diaz said, “He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go.’” The teenager started to walk away, but Mr. Diaz said to him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.” The teenager asked him, “Why are you doing this?” Mr. Diaz replied, “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.” In an interview later for NPR’s Morning Edition, Mr. Diaz said, “You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help.” Mr. Diaz and the teenager went into the diner. Mr. Diaz said, “The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi. The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?’” Mr. Diaz told the teenager, “No, I just eat here a lot. He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.’” Mr. Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?” The teenager said, “Yeah, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way.” The bill arrived, and Mr. Diaz said, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.” The teenager returned Mr. Diaz’ wallet. Mr. Diaz said, “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.” Mr. Diaz asked for the boy’s knife — and the boy gave it to him. Later, Mr. Diaz told his mother what had happened, and she said to him, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.” Mr. Diaz said, “I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

For Further Information: “A Victim Treats His Mugger Right.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio. 28 March 2008


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