I wouldn't say it was my favorite Dr. Seuss book, but it was one of them.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not," said the little furry Lorax, circa 1971, in his ecological warning to save the planet. For some reason, that quote has stuck with me throughout the years, engraved on my brain along with a thousand different useful things like you can put baking soda on a small grease fire to put it out, and utterly useless things like the dot over the letter "i" and "j" is called a tittle.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
In a world of bad news, it's nice to know there are people who do care.
Like the woman on Highway 82 driving the light brown four door car two weeks ago. I'm sorry I don't know your name, but it was durng rush hour as rush hour gets around here, early in the morning right before 8 a.m. You were at least a dozen cars in front of me when I saw you stop at the traffic light, then pull over onto the side of the road and get out of your car. You were dressed in a dark suit and high heels. Then I saw him in the center lane. A dog. Just sitting there. Traffic slowed down a little, just a little, and you waited until there was a lull before you ran over and took the scared animal by the collar and led him back to the side of the road.
"Do you know who he belongs to?" I asked as I pulled up to the light and let down my window. "No," she said. "But I couldn't let him get killed."
Then the light turned green and I had to go, cars behind me waiting impatiently. "Good luck," I said, and couldn't help but wonder how many people would do that, dressed in a suit and high heels, no less. A genuinely good person, I decided. I bet she's like that.
His name is Patrick. I know this because I asked.
He was standing at the counter of the Homerun Foods on Westover Road last Thursday when I went in to get my morning caffeine, this older gentleman, a customer, who turned around and wished me good morning.
"I've got you taken care of," he said but I must not have been listening because I didn't quite catch what he was saying. Then he looked at the cashier and pointed to my drink.
"Oh, no," I said. "You don't have to do that," I told him when I realized he was telling her that he wanted to pay for my drink.
"Yes, I do," he said. "I'm like that."
"Like what?" I couldn't help but ask. He looked at me and smiled. "I do things for people to help make their day, make it a little brighter," he said, then he turned to the cashier. "Tell her. I do this."
"He does this," she said and nodded as she smiled. "He's like that."
So I asked him his name, it was Patrick, and I thanked him and told him that he had, indeed, made my day and he smiled and said, "God bless you," as I walked out the door. "God bless you," I said. And the rest of my day was brighter, not because a stranger bought my drink, but because it reminded me that there are still genuinely good people in the world -- ones that don't expect anything in return. They do it just because.
Unless someone cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It's not.
I guess we can only hope that when we are far gone from here that people -- or even if it's only one person -- think of us and say with a smile on their face, "They were like that."
It's never too late to start being like that.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.