A play of humanity in five acts

It is time to talk a little inside baseball, shop-talk, insider trading, whatever you would like to call it when a person reveals a little known or discussed secret of their profession.

There are a lot of times, as a reporter, that I worry about our world. I get to have an uncomfortable level of knowledge about many topics that are concerning. I know enough about personal property tax to write a book. I get to see every crime statistic put out by state and federal law enforcement. I have to write about car accidents, deaths, and the general carnage one human being can visit upon another.

It can be overwhelming, and discouraging. It makes me long for vacation time and a chance to tune out the constant onslaught of bad news.

So why do it? Why get out of bed? Why plug away at the day?

For the same reason everyone else keeps moving on. Despite all of the bad you can find (which isn’t hard to do) every once in a while I get a front row seat to the truly amazing things humanity can do.

The inside baseball secret is that I get the added benefit of being able to share those amazing moments with a larger group of people. In this case it was a second row seat because I was not present when the following events actually took place, but after hearing the story I was still amazed to the point of sharing.

Over the past few months I have been in a new relationship with a woman that has three children, setting aside the self deprecating stories of all of the things I didn’t know, I didn’t know about parenting, or the gushing apologies I now offer my parents every time I see them, a couple of weeks ago I got to experience humanity and community at its finest because of these children.

One of the children is exploring the sport of wrestling and was about to participate in his first tournament at Highland High School.

There is a lot of waiting and confusion at a wrestling tournament, and as children want to do, the other two, who were not wrestling, decided to go off and play. While playing the youngest boy hit his head on a metal bracket, cutting a sizable gash into his scalp.

The old adage is very true; head wounds bleed A LOT, and such was the case here. I am sure everyone can also agree with the truism that institutional-grade paper towels are barely usable for hand drying, and no help what-so-ever for first aid purposes. Alas these close cousins to notebook paper were all that was available.

As my girlfriend was trying to staunch the flow of blood with these paper towel-pretenders several high school aged kids began making frantic trips to and from the bathrooms to bring more paper towels to her.

Then the second act of humanity happened. Several teenage boys gathered around to see what was happening. At the same time our little boy was frantic, crying out of fear and pain. These teenage boys began to comment on how cool the cut and blood was.

Perfect timing boys. All of a sudden this injured seven-year-old was the star of the show. Older, cool kids thought he was cool, and as we all know, cool kids don’t cry. He calmed right down.

It was now time for act three. Still not making head-way at stopping the bleeding, my girlfriend asked if anyone could find an honest-to-goodness, bonafide towel made of actual cloth. The teenagers said they couldn’t find a real towel, so one young man pulled off the light-weight jacket he was wearing and offered it to her. She said she could not take the jacket because it would be ruined.

The young man replied in true teenage fashion.

“Take it. This is more important, and I hate that jacket. Keep it,” he said.

With the blood flow somewhat stemmed she began the job of loading the kids into the car for a trip to the emergency room.

Even though they were leaving the school there was still time for one more act of kindness.

As she held the jacket to the cut and walked to the car a young lady chased the family down in the parking lot, and asked if there was anything else she could do such as drive them to the hospital or hold the jacket while my girlfriend drove.

Having the situation mostly under control my girlfriend declined the offer, but thanked her for her concern.

Four staples and a few Facebook posts later he is well on his way to healing with no lasting damage.

My spate of sharing good news could end here but in the words of Rom Popeil “wait there’s more!”

Several days later we were all in the car waiting for the light to change so we could turn into the Wal-Mart parking lot. On the sidewalk nearest the Pine Ridge Mall there was a man holding a sign explaining he was homeless and asking for money. Between us and the man was a car full of young women, dressed to the nines, one talking on a phone in a sequin cover case.

I watched as the passenger in the car fanned out a few dollar bills and reached out to that man as they passed by. It may have only been a few bucks to her, but it was most likely the world to that man.

These events took place in Pocatello, but I am not making a comparison to the teenage residents of American Falls because I have seen the same care, kindness, and concern exhibited by our own young adults. I watched our teenagers handle the recent bomb threat at the high school with maturity, responsibility, and even a touch of style.

Even though there are different local governments between here and Pocatello in many ways we are the same community. The values are the same; the responses to our fellow humans are the same.

It would be easy to make this an issue of teenagers breaking the stereotype of selfishness adults often assign to them. The acts of humanity had nothing to do with age; it is only a coincidence of location that they involved teenagers. They were simply doing the right thing because it is what they have been taught and these are the standards they expect of themselves.

It is far too easy to find the bad news. The economy is still down. Schools are perennially underfunded. The list goes on for miles. There will always be people who will do bad things, but at the end of the day you cannot sequester kindness.

 

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