In my line of work, one meets fascinating people on a regular basis.
In fact, it’s one of the things I love the most about the job — the people, and a person’s story. I often find myself fascinated.
As an example, over the weekend, I was out of town, and wound up dining at a restaurant with my sister and my daughter. The tables were quite close together, and we couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the next table.
The woman at the table was speaking in the distinct tones of someone with an impairment. A chef from the restaurant’s kitchen came out to speak with her and her spouse. My reporter’s instinct flared at the gleeful greetings between them.
I eavesdropped. I’ll admit it. And my faith in humanity was restored.
It seems the woman was at the restaurant a few months prior, and while leaving, dropped to the sidewalk, the victim of a sudden stroke. She wasn’t breathing when someone got the chef, a volunteer fireman and paramedic.
“That was the first time I ever gave CPR,” he said to her. “You train for it, but you always hope you never have to use it.”
She had come back to the restaurant to thank him; the restaurant bought her and her spouse’s dinner.
“My family wants to meet you,” she told the chef. “Bring them in!” he replied.
Her spouse then asked a bizarre question, which right away I knew would have been something I would have asked in the same situation: “How did people get in the restaurant while this was going on?”
Without missing a beat, the chef said, “Side door.”
I wanted to join them and get the full story, but I was supposed to be enjoying a day off, after all.
Yet that conversation I heard stuck with me, as the headlines poured in about shootings in Texas and Ohio, tragedies upon tragedies.
Kindness is still out there. Maybe it is harder to find, but it’s there.
On Monday, some members of the Era staff were walking back from a lunch break when they saw a kitten in a parking lot on Main Street. It was in bad shape. These young folks brought that little guy back to the alley beside the Era, spread out paper towels, and gave that kitten chest compressions until a volunteer with No Feline Left Behind came to take it. The kitten didn’t make it, but its chances were a whole lot better because some young adults cared. And it passed away in a warm home, knowing the good in people.
I don’t know how, as a nation, we turn off this path to mutual destruction we are on, but I have to believe that teaching children to be kind is a good start.
It’s nearly time for the school year to begin. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every parent asked their child to be a leader? To be that child who reaches out to someone who may be sitting alone at lunch, or may not have the newest clothes or designer shoes? Think about the difference that could make in a child’s life. A child, maybe facing something terrible in his or her home life, afraid to reach out to others for fear of ridicule and bullying.
Often, we’ll see stories “go viral” on social media for a positive message, like a high school football player stepping in when he saw a younger child being bullied outside the school. Or a group of students going out of their way to include someone who never really wanted to be a loner in the first place.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these stories became the commonplace?
I want to share a story about a little 7-year-old boy I know. He came home from school one day and asked his mother if he was gay. Somewhat taken aback, his mother asked him to explain. It seems a student in school told him if he loved boys, then he was gay.
He said to his mother, “I guess I’m gay, because I love everyone.”
She explained that wasn’t quite what the word meant, but encouraged him to keep on loving people.
Mother Teresa famously said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
Change has to start somewhere.
Marcie Schellhammer is the Era’s assistant managing editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org