A few months ago, Wenyen Gabriel of the Portland Trail Blazers decided to take an Uber ride back to his place. Unfortunately, when he arrived he realized that he left his wallet in the car. So, as any Uber rider would do, Wenyen reached out to the driver through the Uber app but to no avail. Wenyen couldn’t get in touch with the driver and from the looks of things, it seemed he might have to chalk up his wallet as gone for good. However, the heart-warming events that would take place next are enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
“I remember that day,” Wenyen told NBC Sports in an interview. “First of all, we had a nice conversation while I was in the car. He was a real genuine person. I don’t talk to every Uber driver I get, but we had a nice conversation.”
Wenyen continued to describe what took place next, stating, “I said bye at the end — he was really nice to me. And then I realized I forgot my wallet. I kept trying to contact him, but I couldn’t get in touch with him. I don’t know what the issue was with Uber, but I just couldn’t get in contact with him.”
The anxiety associated with losing his wallet was overwhelming to Wenyen, as these days they hold just about all of our necessary belongings and can be quite a pain to replace. Wenyen’s stress was so intense that he told NBC Sports, “I remember I had a game that day and I was in my bed — I usually take a pregame nap, but I couldn’t. I was just hoping it came back… But to no avail. I couldn’t do anything.”
However, Wenyen’s hopes would soon come true, as his Uber driver did find his wallet after all. And though he had not heard from Wenyen due to potential malfunctions with the Uber app, he took it upon himself to return the wallet to him.
“He came back,” Wenyen exclaimed. “I have this long stairway all the way around to get to the door to my apartment complex. He had to walk all the way to the door and up some steps. He is pretty handicapped, so by the time he got to my door, he was breathing heavily… He had struggled to get up there.”
The Uber driver’s name was Jon Barnard and, luckily, he remembered where Wenyen lived. When he got there, he brought Wenyen’s wallet all the way up to his door, despite his bad knees due to years of cross country running and playing basketball when he was younger.
Upon arriving at Wenyen’s door, Jon told NBC Sports, “I asked him if I could sit for a few minutes and catch my breath and rest my knees.”
As he sat, he and Wenyen enjoyed some casual conversation. Wenyen tried to offer Jon money but Jon refused. The Uber driver was committed to his act of kindness as being free of the need for any sort of reward.
Finally, after some insistence, Wenyen was able to convince Jon to accept a small token of his appreciation. “He gave me $100 for returning his wallet,” Jon told NBC Sports. “I didn’t want to mention the wallet because it’s not about me. It’s about him.”
Returning Uber-Kindness During the Coronavirus
Shortly after this series of events, the coronavirus hit the states. Aware of the dangers essential workers were facing during the pandemic, Wenyen couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the Uber driver. Wenyen explained, “I knew he was an at-risk person. He was such a kind person… I didn’t want him driving an Uber anymore.”
Jon finished telling the story to NBC Sports, stating, “…Wenyen deposited $2,500 in my personal account. He was not seeking any publicity. His gift has allowed me to not have to drive. In this time of unrest, I thought it would be a positive story… I think the Trail Blazers should know about it.”
Jon went on to explain, “What makes it more special to me is that Wenyen is not one of the super-high paid guys on the team. But he still helped me… Number 35, I’ll be a fan forever.”
As a result of Wenyen’s kindness, Jon was able to take some time off and take care of his health during coronavirus lockdowns. And stories of Jon and Wenyen’s good deeds continue to circulate the internet, inspiring still others to seek out their own opportunities to support each other and spread positivity!