1. HITCHHIKING THROUGH RENO IN 1985, I wandered by the green banks of the Truckee River, where a number of seen-better-days men lived in the park, in what apparently remained of their business suits.
“Hey buddy, you got a second?” An older man, anyway older than I was — maybe 35. Dirty face, dirtier clothes.
“I don’t have any money, man, if that’s what you mean.”
“No, I wonder if you have a can opener.” He produced a can of Beanee-Weanees. “I haven’t eaten in two days.”
Compassion, when it comes, can be like a bolt of thunder. This time it felt more like a rising warm tide.
“Oh. Sure. Here, let me open that for you.”
I took out my Swiss Army knife and set to work. And noticed three other men, each bearing a can of food, patiently waiting their turn.
2. “Hey man, can you help us out?” Three comfortably-drunk looking men on a bench in San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza in 1987, each half-again my size, lazing in the cold afternoon sun.
“I’m broke, dudes.”
“No, that’s okay.” As evidence, they displayed a pair of bagwrapped 40-ounce beercans. Also, a newspaper. “Can you read? We’ve got the funny papers here but can’t read them.”
Sometimes, compassion is the sound of four guys laughing at Garfield.
You never know where and what you can do for others; the opportunity to help is always there.
That’s why the Boy Scout motto is “be prepared!” 😉