A Glimmer of Decency 3,000 Miles Away

The other day I was feeling terrible.

Terrible about the 5 ½ months of staying at home.

Terrible about not having to eat out at my favorite restaurants.

Terrible that I can’t go out of town and have a vacation.

Terrible about another video of police shooting an unarmed black man.

Terrible about a viral video showing a white mob bullying a white lady at a restaurant eating at an outside table, confronting her to raise her arm (she did not cave in to such intimidation—good for her).

Terrible that a 17-year-old has parents who would allow him to roam his community at night with a semi-automatic assault rifle that he had illegally, dangling around his neck like a piece of jewelry, calmly walking past police without being halted.  Do you think if that kid were  black he would still be alive today?

Terrible that the President of the United States ignores what most Americans have been going through for half of this year:  unable to send children to school, some unable to keep a job, unable to see family members, some even losing family members.  Doesn’t he get it?

Then, the next day, while on the phone with a Microsoft technical support representative, I met Francisco.

While waiting for the installation to fully download, I had a choice:  remain silent until the program was finished, or talk to Francisco.

So I asked Francisco how he was doing.  He told me that it was raining heavily where he was in Nicaragua.  I told him it was triple digits out in L.A.

I asked him how his country was managing the coronavirus.   He said that their president did not mandate quarantine which is why so many people he knows, including his father and himself, have had the virus.

I asked him if he knew how bad it was in the U.S. and he said yes.  He was also aware of the racial issues suffocating America.

I shared with him my recent retirement from teaching.  He told me that I am lucky to have the opportunity to positively influence young people.  He shares with me that he wants to push himself to speak better English.

“You speak English well,” I said.

“Yes, but I only use English at work, and at work only use computer-type language.”

“That’s quite admirable of you to be ambitious.”

I mentioned that he must have a lot of patience doing the job he has dealing with people’s software issues.   He told me it isn’t a problem.  The other day he spent two hours helping his father figure out how to access email on his phone.

“My father needed to know how to do this when he was sick from Covid.”

And as the download completed, I couldn’t help but think how serendipitous it was that of all the Microsoft tech support employees on that particular day, I connected with Francisco.  He not only solved my computer program, he temporarily restored my faith in decent people.


How Hard is it to be Quiet to Others?


I have never attended the Indy 500 to hear the roar of the engines.   But if you live in Burbank, you have an inkling what it might be like with the morons who abound with modified mufflers that make their cars backfire as if they are traveling 100 mph with fireballs trailing behind them.

I don’t know how concerned the Burbank police are about this nuisance that began less than a year ago, but I wish they would do something about it.

Surely, such modifications are illegal.  Of course, so is tinting the driver’s side of a car, not having a license plate mounted on the front of one’s car, or even not mounting a back license plate and driving around for 2 years with the temporary paper one to give the impression that one just bought a new car.

These anti-law individuals seem to increase in numbers as I get older.  Why can’t people just behave themselves for the good of others?

One main reason why this goes on is the same reason the mask controversy continues unresolved.   We have among us citizens who want the freedoms of America without the responsibilities.

If Joe Biden becomes the next president, I hope that he will bring back the concept of citizenship.

Schools used to teach civics classes as well as behaviors that exhibit the consideration of others, known succinctly as the Golden Rule:  do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

That stuff hasn’t been taught in decades.  Which wouldn’t be such a problem if parents did their job of teaching their own children these concepts.  Too many don’t.  The evidence is all around us. The decrease in people who describe themselves as religious also plays a role in the decline of selflessness.

Once in a while, I will see an example of how we all should behave.  During the months-long stay-at-home time, there is a family up the block from me with young children.  Daily the parents have their kids outside playing in their front yard.  I’ve never seen a cell phone or other electronic device in these kids’ hands.  The parents are interacting with them, flying kites, playing hide and go seek, often having a picnic.  And the parents as well as the children wear masks.  I wish I could give them an award.   The sad thing about this is, such behavior should not stand out, it should be the rule.

I want to believe that people I observe walking without masks, blowing through “stop” signs whether driving or riding bicycles, and shopping without social distancing are the minority.

But let’s face it—law-abiding, considerate people are in the minority.

The irony of this is that those who drive without stopping are counting on you to do it so that you don’t hit them.  That bicyclist going by in a blur at a 4-way stop is counting on up to four strangers in cars to make complete stops so his exercise is not paused.

Selfishness is rampant and I wish leaders in government would make it a priority to teach people through signs, public service announcements and social media how to behave as a normal, decent person.

“Gentlemen, quiet your engines!”