Saturday, July 05, 2008

Common Decency Is Not Lost

There's so much bad stuff happening in the world we don't see the simple kindness of the majority of folks. I was thinking on that this afternoon as I was driving to the supermarket. I've seen several simple acts and a few came to mind easily. While waiting at a stop light, I saw one of those simple, decent acts.

A man had pulled a U-Haul truck into a gas station. Apparently he had moved and was returning the truck as the U-Haul business was next door to the station. The man was tall, young, and Asian. It is the practice here to pay for gas before pumping and walking back to the pumps from the cashier, he dropped a twenty dollar bill.

Leaning against the wall was another young man dressed in baggy, droopy pants, over sized shirt, and untied athletic shoes. He was black with cornrowed hair and a ponytail. As soon as he saw the bill fly off in the wind, he chased after it. In a few strides, he stomped the bill to the ground, leaned over, and picked it up.

Without even looking at that twenty longer than to make sure he had it firm, this young man called out to the Asian man and trotted over and gave the him his money. A thank you was given and a wave was returned. Both men went back to what they were doing and will probably never think on this again.

A few years ago, I was travelling to Auburn, California to visit my family. The day was past noon, almost 1 o'clock, so I stopped at a Denny's Restaurant in Turlock. As I pulled into the parking lot, there was a pick-up truck with a vehicle carrier hitched on. In the bed of the pick-up was a new refrigerator and the owner was trying to load another pick-up onto the trailer, but he couldn't get it over the small chocks welded on to keep the vehicle from rolling backward. He didn't gun the engine for fear it would overshoot the mark and smash into the carrier truck and refrigerator.

A group of men came out of the Jack-in-the-Box, saw the predicament and quickly walked over to help. About that time, a man in a Mercedes pulled up, got out, and in his pin stripped suit pitched his shoulder to the task. Another man ran over from the bus stop to help, too. There were about a dozen men there, mostly strangers to one another, helping the Mexican driver (Mexico plates) get the truck up on the trailer. In the group were Whites, Hispanics, and a Black man (from the Mercedes.) It was amazing to see this crew come together, accomplish the task, and disband with backslaps and handshakes all around in the space of about thirty seconds as if it had all been planned and choreographed.

A few days after arriving in Auburn, I drove into town and wondered the sidewalk of Lincoln Way that is the main business street in town. The day was wonderfully warm and I had just finished my ice cream at the Auburn Drug Company soda fountain. The fountain is an antique from the late 1890s with marble countertop and matching marble soda jerks and a mirror that runs the length of the bar. There's a brass rail to rest your feet on.

As I walked, I came to a store I once knew as Rankin's. I bought my first pair of pants there with my own money I'd earned working at the City Hall one summer. It's now some other name. It's had two or three different names since then.

Across the street is an athletic supply store, Auburn Running Company. Out from the Running Company a man sprinted down the sidewalk. I thought I was witnessing a robbery. A moment or two after, a salesman ran from the store and turned in the direction of the fleeing man. Damn! I was witnessing a robbery!

The salesman cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted to the thief, "HOW DO THEY FEEL?" The running man, fifty yards down the street, turned and hollered, "THEY FEEL FINE. I'LL TAKE 'EM." He trotted back and they both went in to complete the transaction.

I cocked my head to the left just once, gave a quite 'Hmm!' to myself, chuckled, and continued my stroll down the streets of my childhood content in knowing that some things just don't change. It doesn't take much to restore my faith in the decency of most folks.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


The Griper said...

nor me, indigo. we always hear of the things that divide this nation and yes they are important but there are times, as you depicted, that prove we really are more of a nation united then we are a nation divided.

and i believe that scenes such as you depicted are more common than we think too. we just are too busy to see them.

good post

Gayle said...

You're right, Indigo.
We are so bombarded with bad news day in and day out that it's easy to forget the decency of most folks so thanks for the true stories. :)

Tom C said...

Indi, since losing so much of my vision, I've been the recipient of a lot of that decency. It is something I've known for a long time, but thugs and thieves show up the loudest.

dcat said...

This is the America I know and why the dipshit islamic extremists will not win here! Neither will socialism!!!

Indigo Red said...

I dare say, Griper, we as individuals participate more often then even we remember. I think one of the most divisive items in America today is the pronunciation of 'divisive'. Is it with a short or long 'I'?

It is too bad, Gayle, that bad news is all around. I've said many times that the bad is news because it's out of the ordinary. Good is commonplace, thus it is not news and isn't reported. We are also taught from childhood not to brag on ourselves and in a capitalist society it's hard to find someone to do it for us without spending oodles of money. It's a vicious cycle.

Tom, you are so very right. I've been a cripple all my life and many have helped me. Some out of pity, some from a genuine desire to help. Others just do and they are the most appreciated. Thugs and theives are taking our time and attention for themselves and are hard to ignore.

This, dcat, is the America that we all know. I would say it's also the world that Islamic extremists, socialists, liberals, and Democrats know, but their perverted philosophies get in the way of good sense.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Great stories.

I had a coworker when I was in retail, a black girl of lower middle class who went to a community college who couldn't have made more than $7 an hour, find over $300 laying around in the store. She turned it over to management, and eventually the one who lost the money returned in a panic.

There are less extraordinary, decent acts of kindness and civilized behavior all around us, if we just pay attention. I've been to places where there is jostling going on and what we might consider rude behavior. Last night, at the movie theater, it struck me how we abide by unwritten rules of conduct, of waiting our turn in line and such. Of obeying authority. I feel blessed living in American society.

Anonymous said...

Two weeks ago I filled up at the local Shell station and very stupidly left my wallet on top of the pump with a couple of thousand dollars in it. It was an hour later when I discovered the gaffe and returned to the station. Of course the wallet was not on the pump. The lady in the C store came out and said "I can tell by the look on your face that you are the guy I have been looking for." A regular customer had found it and brought it inside. I left him a hundred bucks and my profound thanks for reaffirming my faith in the average American citizen. Don

Indigo Red said...

That's another great story, Word. We probably have hundreds of such stories to tell.

You know, Word, not long ago I was in line in the Newport Beach DMV to renew my driving license. Near the end of the line was a foreign couple, and they were excitedly discussing in mixed languages whether he should just jump to the front of the line because the line was slow and he had to get back to work.

The woman with him said that would be okay with her, IF they were still in Manilla. Then she said, and I'll always remember her words, "We're in America now. Here we wait our turn." He nodded and quietly waited his turn.

I liked the ...WE wait our turn. She had already internalized being American. When that man waits his turn without thinking about it is when he will become an American. He won't even notice it happened, but it will happen.

Indigo Red said...

I was just thinking on that situation, Don. Had I found the wallet, would I have been tempted to take? My first thought was, of course I would be tempted because I'm human. But, I'd do the right thing and turn in the wallet.

That didn't feel right because I have held excepionally valuable pieces of art an dantiquities in my hands with the opportunity to take them. The fact is, I never had any thought of value or taking what isn't mine. The wallet would have been turned over to the proper people for return.