My life experience tells me that, despite some evidence to the contrary, there is hope for the human condition. There have been two incidents in my history that have reinforced the faith I have in my fellow man (or woman, as was actually the case).
On one occasion I went to a meeting at a hotel I was familiar with, but the area around it had changed considerably. I parked in a big garage in back of the hotel and went merrily along to attend my meeting.
A few hours later, I went to retrieve my car. When I presented myself to the garage attendant, he informed me that the validation from the hotel was not good in this garage. Okay, so I goofed. Then he told me the parking fee was $35. I gulped and snarled and reluctantly reached in my wallet for a credit card, only to be told, “We don’t accept credit cards.” Is that possible?
Next, I went back to my wallet to find I only had $18. Now I was really in a pickle. Annoyed with the garage for not taking credit cards, and more mad at myself for parking in the wrong garage—as well as not having any cash with me—I was pretty ticked.
With some amount of disgust, I went off to an ATM machine only to discover I didn’t have a pin number for this credit card. My wife is always changing credit cards to take advantage of mileage promotions.
Now what? There was not a bank nearby that I did business with and a nearby bank just shrugged me off. After hearing my tale of woe, a kind security guard suggested I go to the market a block away, buy some stuff and get cash back.
Great idea! I trudged off to the market (Gelsons), scooped up a bunch of groceries and got in line to check out. The cashier tallied up my purchases and asked for the pin number on my credit card. Here we were, back where I started.
I told the cashier I didn’t have a pin number so I couldn’t buy the groceries. As I stood there feeling like a total fool and trying to think what I could do, the store manager came over to show the cashier how to reverse the sale. I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I asked to speak to the manager.
I explained to her that I was a frequent shopper at one of their other stores (I really was) and I was in his desperate situation to get cash for the parking garage. Maria, the store manager, listened sympathetically and told me to follow her. She went to the phone on her desk and called the bank on my credit card. After a long conversation, she handed me the phone and said, “She’ll give you a pin number.”
Terrific, I thought. Finally a break. I got on the phone and the bank lady said, “We’ll be happy to give you a pin number. You’ll get it in the mail,” she said, “in five to seven business days.” Back to the depths of despair.
Maria wasn’t discouraged. She said she could make another call. Don’t know who she called, but it didn’t work out any better. Depression mounted.
Then from out of nowhere came the surprise. Maria said, “I’ll personally loan you $50.” I could hardly believe or absorb what she said nor adequately thank her. Finally I stammered, “All I need is $20.”
She gave me the twenty, I got out of the garage, and returned the next day with $25 and a note calling her my saint.
If you think that was terrific, wait till you hear the other story.
Right before the real estate depression hit a few years ago, I sold my condo to move to a larger one where I could have a retirement office and it would be a little more conveniently located.
The people who bought my unit were two of the sweetest, adorable senior lovebirds, who had met at church, recently retired, and had just married. They were the most likable couple who were finding happiness late in life.
They loved my condo and wanted to buy a lot of the furniture I wasn’t taking with me. During escrow, they called me a few times to ask if they could just come and sit in the living room for awhile.
So I moved out and they moved in. A few weeks later, I got a call from Mrs. Pissaro. I thought to myself, “God, what’s wrong”?
Mrs. Pissaro said, “Did you by any chance leave some money in the desk you left”? Now, how do you answer that kind of question? If seems obvious I must have, but I sure didn’t remember.
After a bit of fencing, it finally comes out that she had found $2,000 in the desk and if I could come by she would be happy to give it to me. Now you ask, “What were you going with that much cash in your home”? It’s a long story, but basically I kept it there because, on occasion, I or someone else from the office had to travel on short notice for business or family emergencies.
It was all hard to believe, but I did go by to retrieve the money and thank her as profusely as possible. I insisted she take $500 to give to her church. That gesture got her all teary-eyed. She couldn’t stop hugging me and I wanted to hug her for her unbelievable honesty.
We don’t meet or interact with these kinds of people very often, but it warms your soul to know there are some wonderful people in this world with integrity and compassion. Knowing this really keeps your faith up and at the same time challenges you to ask if you’ve been as outgoing to others as you could be.
As we observe the fraying of the value system all around us, as well as the warring factions all around the world, you have to believe there is hope that there are enough good people to win out.