Monday, October 7, 2013

Simple Acts of Kindness

Simple Acts of Kindness
Copyright 2013, by Lori-Ann Willey

Recently, our son had his wallet stolen from his own apartment.  Hollywood California is not all that it is cracked up to be, but maybe”cracked” is still the correct word to use.  That is a sad and probably stereotypical thing to say, but last spring, Paul and I spent a week there, and it was not a pleasant experience.  Well, it was nice to visit with our son, but the area itself, no thank you.  I walked around with pepper spray around my neck like a necklace, and Paul kept a box cutter in his wheelchair side pocket.  Our son carries a knife.  During a walk to the grocery store maybe 1 ½ blocks away was a mugging.  As we walked by, there were several police cars and a woman sitting down with a cloth to her head, blood running down her face.  Josh was held at knifepoint once.  The homeless man demanded his phone while a police officer watched!  When Josh confronted the officer, the officer simply asked, “What do you want me to do about it?”  A few days later, the man called and said he “found” Josh’s phone and wanted him to meet him at a specific address.  We told him not to go.  He did not.  Those are mild examples of Hollywood, and by far, just a couple of examples that Josh has dealt with.

Here in Maine, a woman wrote a blog entry a few months ago about the loss of her wedding ring while hiking a trail around Mount Katahdin.  She lost it in a stream.  A father and son, upon hearing the story, took it upon themselves to go looking for the lost ring(s), found it, and happily returned it to the woman.  That is an example of Maine.

Today, while at the Millinocket Post Office (closest town to our location) where we pick up our camp mail, there was a young hiker in front of me.  I waited patiently behind him while the clerk, Julie tended to the tall, bearded young man.  He told her he lost his wallet, and wanted to know how to get money sent to him there.  She explained the process.  He graciously thanked her in a very gentle voice.  He stepped aside, excusing himself for being in front of me, and he continued outside into the drizzle.

Julie mentioned that he was a hiker and we briefly discussed his predicament, both in a motherly way.  I told her that our Josh just had his wallet stolen and it is an awful feeling of vulnerability.  This young hiker is now without an ID, and probably a driver’s license, and money, too.  Julie and I bid each other a good day. 

As I exited the post office, this young man’s situation was weighing heavy on my mind.  The past few days rang loudly in my heart.  It has been a total nightmare for us to wire money to our Josh.  He was supposed to sign a lease for an apartment that very same day his wallet was stolen.  Because there is another Joshua Willey that somehow got on Josh’s credit report, his soon-to-be property owner needed to see a photo I.D. before he would let the “good” Josh into his apartment.  However, now because he now had no photo I.D., he was in a major dilemma!  Josh went directly to the DMV and spent $35 for another I.D., but it is only a temporary one, and the real one would not be in for two weeks!  I guess the temporary I.D.’s do not have photos.  Anyways, it has been a total nightmare.

As I stepped outside the Post Office, I saw the young man on the phone.  I proceeded to the truck to drop off the mail, my heart heavy for this man and his situation.  No money probably meant no food, either.  My heart sank further.  Due to the rains, before I left camp, I put on a light jacket to help keep myself dry.  When I reached into the pockets, I pulled out $68.00 I did not know I had.  It has been since last spring that I had worn it so it was a nice little surprise.  At the truck, I again reached into my pocket and pulled out a $20.  It was not much, but it would feed the man for the rest of the day and until money came through to the Post Office the following day. 

I walked back toward the man and as I drew near, he was still on the phone.  I shyly put my hands up to form a “T” as in basketball’s Time Out hand language.  He rather looked taken back.  I meekly made an “I’m sorry” expression.  I had his attention.  He put the phone face to his chest and was ready to listen.  I held up the money and told him that I could not help but hear his conversation inside.  Before I even finished my sentence, he drew his head back a little bit and shook his head no.  I cocked my head to the side and, said, “Please.  This is something I have to do.  Our son is across country and just had his wallet stolen.  I need to do this.”  He gave a gentle sigh, and slight smile.  “Please”, I begged, “Our son is in California.  I want to do this.”  He gave a bigger smile and I could see both relief and shock on his face, “Thank you” he said with a gentle, appreciative voice.  Together we smiled.

I turned to head back toward the truck, when I heard him speak something inaudible.  It turned slightly to see if he was talking to me or if he was back on the phone.  He took a step in my direction, so I turned fully.  He reached his arms out and gave me the warmest, most gentle hug imaginable.  I rubbed his side as we released our embrace, and said, “Good Luck”.  Again, he thanked me, and then asked for the zip code for the town of Millinocket.  He repeated it into the phone and thanked me again. 
A little bit of kindness goes a long ways in time of need, especially, and it is during those times that you will always be grateful for those who took two seconds out of their lives to help you.  Take our son, for example.  His friend Jesyka is a true friend.  Due to no photo I.D. to get the wired money from the bank, we trusted his friend and changed the name on the transfer to hers instead of Josh’s name.  When it was time to pick up the money, Jesyka was sick in bed with strep throat.  Josh walked to her place, helped her clean up a bit, wrote a letter of recommendation for her, and knowing Josh, made her something to eat.  Then, together they would walk to the bank.  Come to find out the money was .01 over the allotted amount and could not be withdrawn.  Huh?  Rite-Aid only allowed $999.99 and not of $1000.00?  Really?  Apparently, because Jesyka was so sick, they went to the nearest place they could to get the money instead of walking the distance to Western Union.  I cannot blame them, and poor Jesyka being so sick.  My hat goes off to her for being such a great friend to Josh.

It has been a frustrating few days for us, as well as for Josh, so I can imagine how frustrating and lost this hiker must feel, and I presume he was on the phone talking with a parent.  I had great empathy for his situation, which now probably became his parent’s situation, too, and I could relate to that especially.  I do not know the name of the young man, but I hope his money comes through so he can continue on his journey, for like our own son, young and full of energy, they have embarked on an incredible journey, and being so far away from home.

I would like to add that those people you may see on the streets asking for money for food, will work for food, etc.  I am VERY skeptical of them and their honesty, but sometimes....maybe they ARE honest and they ARE victims of others.  Maybe they do not have family that can wire them money like Josh and this hiker.  One just never knows.  With that said, I know a man who knows a man that becomes a "bum" on the weekends because he can make up to a couple thousand dollars in a weekend by doing so.  This is a man who makes well over 100,000.00 a year.  You just NEVER know who you are handing your money to, always be careful.  A buck or two can feed a truely starving person down on their luck.  :-)  Will you ever know you helped a bum? Probably not, but you may be helping someone truly in need.  That is the thought I choose.  Truly, this man I helped today was a case of being down on his luck, just as our son Josh and what he experienced.

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