I’ll stand ready

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel <<< I knew Brendan Thomas O’Toole as a pedicab driver, and I didn’t like him.  Common wisdom would say I should remain silent on this occasion, but if one of Brendan’s survivors in time thinks I made the right choice, then I did.  If not, I hope I’ll be forgiven.  Brendan was an owner operator, and he had been around for a while.  Gregg said, “yes, a long time, like me, but more”.  I learned of his passing from a Penn-Station-Eighth-Avenue cab attendant who was able to describe Brendan with such precision, so I was sure I knew who died.  Gregg confirmed later when I returned my trike.  Most of us rent our trikes, so our trikes look the way the owner of our trike wants them to look, but Brendan’s looked the way Brendan wanted it to look.  He had high handle bars, which looked stupid, but now I realize it made his posture cool compared to mine.  I think of my reflection as I ride the streets of NYC and I think I look like an oversized kid riding an oversized tricycle, but Brendan’s posture had style.  Why did he patch his canopy with a variety of colors of tape?  His wild hair would say any tape would be good, and my guess would be duct-tape color, but he not only chose color; he chose a variety of colors.  This is a mystery.  He had his own look, and best of all, nobody copies.  Brendan and I exchanged no words, but a series of passing glances left me with the sense I knew all I wanted to know about Brendan, but then he passed through the Eighth Avenue cab line while I was among the people in line saying to me, “a – – hole”.  It was silly.  He tried to say it as if he was the reincarnated Jim Henson without his lips moving.  It seemed he wanted me to be insulted while the others in line found him charming.  As predicted Brendan rode away empty as did I.  After that point I did everything I could to avoid him.  Looking passed him as if he were transparent, but he wasn’t.  He left an impression.  I could only guess his sweatpants were given to him in a high school basketball program, which his brother wore until they were worn, and Branden wore until his final days.  I imagine him always behind on laundry and wearing his brother’s or roommate’s clothing.  I did not make note of his passengers, but I can imagine he attracted good girls interested in bad boys.  It is easy to imagine a couple women in a cab line whose friends never even knew they had temptations, but yet they compared a pedicab ride with the wild-looking guy to a boring and forgettable yellow cab, and then they found themselves in his cab not knowing why.  Will I make a traditional donation in his name, probably not, but what could I do?  Anything asked of me.  I would consider it a privilege if one or more of his survivors rode with me around Penn Station, and let me tell about how we do our job, and then how Brendan did his job.  If I got one of his many roles of colored tape, we (NYC pedicabbers) could mark our cabs in his honor.  All my effort to look past him failed.  He was unmistakable.  I’ll think of him when I see my reflection in a series of glass windows along the NYC sidewalks, and I’ll wish I could morph my posture into my own look as Brendan was able to seat himself with his own style.  He is already missed, and his memory will endure on the Midtown streets and avenues for time to come.  Dear kind survivors of Brendan: I am with you in your loss, and I will stand ready through your recovery.  Sincerely, Tom Doody 866-516-1985, 902pacific@gmail.com >>> since public speaking, and posting internet comments are two things people fear, I created an email account for readers to use for anonymous comments: gmail, username: anonymous2tomdoody, password: anonymous123

About Tom Doody

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel
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5 Responses to I’ll stand ready

  1. S.M.Monk says:

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Thank you.

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  2. Lizanne O'Toole says:

    Tom, I am one of Brendan’s sibblings and I want to Thank You for your beautiful post. I too did not always like Brendan (usual brother sister stuff) and I often felt that Jim Henson look 😉 His signature saying was to “Treat everyone you meet like a mental patient” and so he did. Maybe that’s how he went about his life so peacefully and explains the outpouring of love we are witnessing. He was unique and I love your take of his presence in your domain. Brendan was just like duct tape no one, no thing or situation was ever broken or a lost cause. Duct tape could fix everything as could Brendan’s love for all. Hopefully one day soon I will get take that pedicab ride with you. It would be an honor! Until then, ride on and keep the spirit of Brendan alive and moving. Many thanks – his younger and not as wise sister, Lizanne O’Toole (one of his many mental patients)

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  3. Robert says:

    It amazes me how those who really knew him, were glad they stuck around & GOT to know him! It amazes me how those who did’nt know him, understood him. I, & my family, had the honor, & pleasure ,last night in Central Park hearing his pedicab bretheran share stories of his ride through the streets of Manhattan, and the times when he rested and communicated.He was heard loud and clear! You are not alone with your distaste for Brendan, but if only you got to know him. Your soul would’ve been touched.
    Bro-Robert

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    • Tom Doody says:

      middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel <<>> since public speaking, and posting internet comments are two things people fear, I created an email account for readers to use for anonymous comments: gmail, username: anonymous2tomdoody, password: anonymous123

      Like

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