Running Free

Running Free

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

We as parents work hard to set our children on a path strewn more with green grass than cobbles, and we as parents try hard to feed and nourish their souls and bodies with good things: good food, good thoughts, good Karma.

And so, when something less than wonderful happens, we ache, if not for the downfall and disappointment of the child, then for the inability to spare the child from the actual cause of such disappointment.

And alternatively, when we have done all that we can, nourished small bodies and souls with all of the necessary ingredients that we believe necessary, and something good happens and we can share with our child the exhilaration of such a moment then, then we give thanks.
This evening I was able to experience with my son just such a moment.

You see, recently my young lad attended an away swim meet- the one mentioned in the “Rites of Passage” blog from several days back. Well, upon returning from this incredible experience without the presence and hovering of Mom or Dad, our son came home proud and happy. For he had won the 9-10 boys division of the swim meet. How proud was he!!

He beamed for several days. This despite his disappointment in himself at having lost the bag that contained all of his electronic devises, the charger for his phone, the charger for his handheld Nintendo DS as well as four video games including his newest and currently most favorite Guitar Hero along with associated finger playing device.

“Don’t give up hope honey,” I told him with my Pollyanna belief that most people are good. “It may turn up yet.”

“Don’t hold your breath Mom,” was the tart reply from my too young to be jaded son. “Kids were telling me horror stories of things they have lost on bus trips. It’s gone for good.”

I sighed and proceeded to send mother messages electronically to the coaches pleading for the name of the bus company in order to give them a call – just in case just anyone were to find and turn in a small yellow zipper case lovingly labeled with my son’s initials.

The man who answered the phone to the bus company sounded tired, but pleasant, worn from life, yet decent with a warm voice like - buttered toast. Hard to explain, really.

He didn’t dismiss what was by most standards I admit, a trivial request – a yellow bag with a few games and electronic devices. It wasn’t a missing kid, it wasn’t a critical medicine. It was simply- a bag full of – things.

“Was you son on the Irvine Novaquatics trip to Arizona?” The man asked in his warm toast with butter voice.

“He was,” I said.

“Well, let me have your phone number. There were two buses that made that trip and I will ask the drivers to go through them. But it may take me a couple of days.”

“Oh thank you,” I told the man whose name I neglected to ask.

We ended the call and I told my son to have faith and not give up hope.

He smiled at me as he finished his math homework and said, "Mom, I love you for always trying to see the bright side of things.”
I reminded him of how many times the brighter side had revealed itself to me. Like the time I had left my wallet in the cart at Target. And hadn’t realized it was missing until an hour after I got home and went looking for some money. I called up the store and sure enough, a store clerk who had been collecting carts from the parking lot had found my wallet and turned it into the lost and found department.

I of course jumped in my car praying that a cop wouldn’t decide that this was the day where he was one ticket short of quota and I would be his mark – since trying to explain that my license was in my wallet which wasn’t at the moment with me, but that if he cared to escort me to Target where some nice young person had turned it in…well, luckily, I made it there without incidence.

I reminded my son of this story and of the time we were on a family trip to San Francisco. We had brought rain coats because it was supposed to be rainy that week. And it wasn’t until we had gotten out of the plane in SF that I realized I had left my black London Fog coat that I had gotten on sale at Macy’s for a great price years back on the back of the chair 600 miles away. Of course it was raining. It rained much of the week now that I think about it- and I ended up buying a cheap water coat in a drugstore. Raincoat or no raincoat we had a great trip loaded with laughs and raindrops and memories.

I of course called the airlines when we had settled ourselves in the hotel. They said they would keep an eye out and call me if it turned up.

My husband and son were both convinced that it was long gone never to be seen again. And so imagine their surprise and my happiness when the day before we were to depart to come back home from SF the phone rang. It was the airlines: they had found my coat- it had been turned in by a passenger and would be waiting for me in the Lost and Found area when I got to the airport.

The number of times I have left my prescription sunglasses either at a friend’s house, our favorite Italian restaurant who actually opened early for me one Sunday morning so I could have them for a planned trip to San Diego, in a bookstore, at the dentist, at the doctor’s office...

If these glasses could talk….I mean, I have been blessed by the gods and angels of good fortune. And now I hope that my son and husband will believe me when I say, there are many good people in this world that do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do. They do it without looking for anything other than it’s the right thing to do. It’s very simple really.

Which is why a man who takes a bus to work from Irvine to Placentia every day was willing to meet at the library near his bus stop at 9:10 p.m. this evening to deliver my son’s yellow bag which had been found by one of his colleagues named Luis.

He had called me around 7:00 p.m. letting me know it had just been turned in. He let me know that he too lived in Irvine and would be happy to have me meet him at the library if convenient.
And so I sat on a bench outside the library waiting and listening to the hum of cars and the now and then meow of a cat somewhere nearby.

At 9:10 p.m. I saw man of average build carrying a plastic bag and a small lunch pail.
"Are you the bus driver?" I asked with a smile.
The man with the warm as toast with butter voice had eyes the color of the bluest sky and a white trim beard nodded.
I shook his hand, thanking him for his kind gesture. He opened his lunch pail and pulled out the all too familiar yellow zipper bag trimmed with black that had been the source of a bit of grief this past week.

I handed a card to him and asked if he would be so kind as to pass it along to Luis, the man who had actually found my son’s electronic bag. He said he would.
I handed him an envelope and said, “And this is for you. For being so kind and once more rekindling my faith and belief in human goodness.”

He gratefully accepted the small token and smiled.

I offered to drive him home; he declined thanking me saying he lived nearby. He turned back from the direction in which he had just come.

And I walked back to my car, cradling the small yellow bag, silly thing that it was.
It was what it had come to represent. A disappointment now turned to the belief that decency and humanity are not dead.

I hummed a song, got in my car and realized that I had not asked the man with a voice like warm toast with butter for his name.

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