By Rick Hamlin
Angels in America
Ever noticed how many kind, generous people there are?
I was sitting outside, finishing my cup of lentil soup, enjoying the sun and the brief respite from sweltering summer temperatures. I stood up to walk back to the office.
“Sir, sir,” someone called after me. I turned around. A twentysomething girl, carrying her own lunch in one hand, leaned down to the sidewalk and picked up my money clip with her free hand. “You must have dropped this.”
“Wow,” I said, “thanks so much.” I put it back in my pocket, wondering how it had fallen out, knowing that I wouldn’t have noticed its absence until hours later.
This on the same day when at my usual takeout bistro, Harry at the counter hollered, “Medium lentil coming up,” then he refused to take my credit card. “It’s on the house today,” he said.
“Wow, really?” I high-fived him, then slipped a five in the box for tips. “That’s really nice of you.”
“I’ve been here since four o’clock this morning,” he joked, “just waiting for you to show up.”
“Take a day off.”
“Wednesday,” he said. “The Fourth. No work for me.”
Not to mention what happened a couple of days ago, when a friend from church and I were having lunch at the nearby Irish pub that has a fabulous Cobb salad and excellent sausages. We paid our bill and walked out when I heard someone calling after me, “Sir, sir!” I turned around. “You left this,” our waitress said, handing me my wallet.
“Wow,” I said, “thanks so much.” I slipped it into my pocket.
If my wife were reading this, she would point out that I’m a hapless character, coming close to losing everything from my pockets in a matter of days: my credit cards, my driver’s license, my subway card, my cash, my favorite picture of her and the boys. “Oh, but look what I gained!” I would tell her. All these people looking out for me.
(If she doesn’t read this, we can keep this as our secret, OK?)
Everyone says that people are getting worse, selfish and remote, with no sense of community or larger purpose. Perhaps it’s true, but I can think of two strangers and a former stranger who offer conflicting data.