It was one of those endless rainy May days – this one, and at that particular moment, especially torrential. It was the kind of day that anyone who had a slight inclination towards depression could latch onto, as an excuse to inhibit a smile or a warm hello. And there I was, waiting for an elevator in the lobby of Boca Regional Hospital shaking out my soaked umbrella and shivering as my wet clothes were assaulted by the icy air conditioning. My ultimate destination – a visit with a friend who had experienced a series of orthopedic screw-ups landing her here for the second time in two weeks, and she, a legitimately unhappy “camper.” What’s more, the elevators were operating on “don’t-rush-me-I’ll-be-there-eventually” current.
“You’re one smart lady,” said the 60-ish year old tall well put-together gentleman sitting on the waiting-bench, in clothes that looked like they hadn’t reached the washing machine rinse cycle, evidently unprepared for the sudden deluge.
“Uh – you mean the umbrella?” I asked
“Yeah. I usually keep about a half dozen of them in my car. And dummy that I am, they are all still there.” he said in mild self-deprecation.
“Well, here, would you want to use this to get one from your car – and I’ll wait at the entrance for you to return it?”
“No no no thanks. I’m going to visit my mother. Will probably be here for hours. Maybe the rain will stop by then. But thanks anyway.”
The elevator arrived and we entered together and, as it creeped vertically at horse and buggy pace, this stranger, whose last name, “Friend,” I could read from the hospital ID pasted to his jacket — made my day.
“Ya know,” he told me, “I buy a bunch of umbrellas at Walmart for a coupla bucks, cheap, ya know! and every so often, when it rains, I give them to people I see in the street – some of them homeless, others just caught in a mess of rain getting battered and wet. They are so surprised and grateful – and I just keep on driving.”
What a great thing to do!
Then — “Friend” exited from the elevator on the floor below mine – poof and gone!
I had just enough time to reconfigure my negative thoughts for the day. By God! The “good people” are going to win. Assaulted day and night in all venues by the ugliness, and selfishness and corruption and veniality that seemingly has overtaken our social norms, we tend to forget – or not be exposed to – the inherent good that goes on behind the pages of newspapers and the cable newsrooms. And I reminded myself as I so often have to do lately, that good and evil have been in conflict since the beginning of time. Nor is that conflict ever likely to abate. And by my calculation, “good” still had the statistical edge.
And with an extra bounce, I entered my friend’s hospital room with this story on my tongue noting the quick change of expression on her face – from a deep frown of physical pain, to her old smile. We both know that the sun will come out tomorrow — well, maybe the next day — but eventually.