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And then I asked him if I could join him for lunch. He thought about it for a second. And after that, we got together every Monday. For the next Mondays. His name is Maurice, and he changed my life.


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Why did I stop and go back to Maurice? It is easier for me to tell you why I ignored him in the first place. You see, I am a woman whose life runs on schedules. I make appointments, I fill slots, I micromanage the clock. I bounce around from meeting to meeting, ticking things off a list. I am not merely punctual; I am fifteen minutes early for any and every engagement.

This is how I live; it is who I am—but some things in life do not fit neatly into a schedule. Rain, for example. On the day I met Maurice—September 1, —a huge storm swept over the city, and I awoke to darkness and hammering rain. It was Labor Day weekend and the summer was slipping away, but I had tickets to the U. Open tennis tournament that afternoon—box seats, three rows from center court. In I was thirty-five years old and an advertising sales executive for USA Today, and I was very good at what I did, which was building relationships through sheer force of personality.

Taking clients to the Open and sitting courtside for free was just another measure of how far this girl from a working-class Long Island town had come. But then the rains washed out the day, and by noon the Open had been postponed. I puttered around my apartment, tidied up a bit, made some calls, and read the paper until the rain finally let up in mid-afternoon. I grabbed a sweater and dashed out for a walk. I may not have had a destination, but I had a definite purpose—to enjoy the fall chill in the air and the peeking sun on my face, to get a little exercise, to say good-bye to summer.

Stopping was never part of the plan. And so, when Maurice spoke to me, I just kept going. Another thing to remember is that this was New York in the s, a time when vagrants and panhandlers were as common a sight in the city as kids on bikes or moms with strollers. The nation was enjoying an economic boom, and on Wall Street new millionaires were minted every day.

But the flip side was a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and nowhere was this more evident than on the streets of New York City.

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After a while you got used to the sight of them—hard, gaunt men and sad, haunted women, wearing rags, camped on corners, sleeping on grates, asking for change. It is tough to imagine anyone could see them and not feel deeply moved by their plight. Yet they were just so prevalent that most people made an almost subconscious decision to simply look the other way—to, basically, ignore them.

The problem seemed so vast, so endemic, that stopping to help a single panhandler could feel all but pointless. And so we swept past them every day, great waves of us going on with our lives and accepting that there was nothing we could really do to help. There had been one homeless man I briefly came to know the winter before I met Maurice. His name was Stan, and he lived on the street off Sixth Avenue, not far from my apartment.

Stan was a stocky guy in his midforties who owned a pair of wool gloves, a navy blue skullcap, old work shoes, and a few other things stuffed into plastic shopping bags, certainly not any of the simple creature comforts we take for granted—a warm blanket, for instance, or a winter coat. He slept on a subway grate, and the steam from the trains kept him alive.


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And it became part of my routine to bring him a cup of coffee on the way to work. And just like that he vanished from my life, without a hint of what happened to him. I felt sad that he was no longer there and I often wondered what became of him, but I went on with my life and over time I stopped thinking about Stan. I was not some heroic do-gooder. I learned, like most New Yorkers, to tune out the nuisance. Then came Maurice.

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I walked past him to the corner, onto Broadway, and, halfway to the other side in the middle of the avenue, just stopped. I stood there for a few moments, in front of cars waiting for the light to change, until a horn sounded and startled me. I turned around and hustled back to the sidewalk. I just remember doing it.

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Looking back all these years later, I believe there was a strong, unseen connection that pulled me back to Maurice. It is, as the old Chinese proverb tells us, something that connects two people who are destined to meet, regardless of time and place and circumstance. Some legends call it the red string of fate; others, the thread of destiny.

It is, I believe, what brought Maurice and me to the same stretch of sidewalk in a vast, teeming city—just two people out of eight million, somehow connected, somehow meant to be friends. Look, neither of us is a superhero, nor even especially virtuous. When we met we were just two people with complicated pasts and fragile dreams. But somehow we found each other, and we became friends. And that, you will see, made all the difference for us both. Reading Group Guide. About The Authors. Laura Schroff. Photograph by Lorraine Stundis. Alex Tresniowski.

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Resources and Downloads. Common Core Suggestion. Thank you for signing up, fellow book lover! External Sites. User Reviews. User Ratings. External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Rate This. Director: Bob Balaban. Writers: Penn Jillette , Teller. Prestidigitation films. Short Films Watch List. Use the HTML below. You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Photos Add Image Add an image Do you have any images for this title?

Edit Cast Cast overview, first billed only: Penn Jillette Himself Teller Himself Donald Acree Wally Evan Handler Agent No. Receptionist James Randi Zwicki as James Randy G. Gordon Liddy Sargeant Rambo Deborah Rush Norris Nicholas Saunders General Isao Sato Scientist Dick Cavett Andy Warhol Edit Storyline A pair of magicians perform a magic trick involving "invisible thread" which could affect the fate of human existence. Language: English.