This morning, I’m having a meeting at a coffee shop on Capital Hill (Seattle neighborhood where I lived when I first moved here). En route to the meeting, a frail, slightly disheveled, elderly gentleman who exuded warmth and humor was getting out of a car. Trying to negotiate his walker, his bag, the car and the curb, I offered help. He happily took it, holding onto my hand and offering me his bag. As we walked into Ladro, everyone greeted him “Hi Ted” came from about 3 different people. I helped him into his seat and then, on my way out, one of the people who said hi to him shared a very mini-version of Ted’s story with me when I asked why everyone knew him.
Turns out Ted has spent a lot of time at the coffee shop. Plus – he used to play piano up the street at Victrola and, a long time ago, was a vaudeville performer.
In addition to feeling blessed that I had the opportunity to help a person, I feel so honored that I had the chance to interact with a very local icon. It makes me realize even further that everyone has a story and, given the chance, we should take the 2-3 seconds/minutes or whatever timeframe is needed to help others (i know – sounds totally trite, but get over it! I’m feeling mushy right now). It also makes me hope that, when I’m that old (he seemed about 80) that people know and help me and feel a positive connection with/from me. I also hope that when I’m 80 or so, that I’m getting out to the coffee shop! (although by then – who knows what the vice delivery vehicle will be).
It reminds me of a few weeks ago when we were getting off of I-5 and my 6 year old son, Sidney, saw a panhandler on the left side of the offramp. Unfortunately, we were in the right lane. We discussed how we might get that person the apple we had. As I continued on without trying to get that person the apple, he got mad at me saying something like: you traded a small amount of time for a big amount of time. (his statement was more crisp and more profound than my butchered version). In other words – this kid put me in my place for trying to save a small amount of time in exchange for what could have really helped that person for a longer amount of time stay away from hunger (or so Sidney explained).
Net net – if only to avoid ridicule from my kids, I now take the opportunity to do good deeds whenever possible.
Oh – and here’s one we do all the time that takes no time – but contributes to the positive energy in the world (and I got it from a book by a Rabbi about 365 good deeds we could do) :
If you see an emergency vehicle rushing to or from somewhere, send a little blessing/wish that the person/people they’re helping will be okay and that the responders will be able to do their jobs well and safely.
Have a great day!