I was losing a little faith in humanity on Thursday. My morning started out with a parent meeting. I sat with the parent for forty-five minutes while she explained all the work she does with her son and how she needed help because her “baby is retarded or something.” When she left, I had to open my office door because my office reeked of marijuana. It was so strong that I immediately hit the teacher’s lounge to get a donut as I was sure the munchies would set in. A staff member was not familiar with the smell of weed, so I sent her into my office. She knows now! It was 9:30 AM.
I stopped by the office and found staff working with a student who was having a severe asthma attack. It was pretty scary as the student’s speech was slurred and he was breathing like Darth Vader. In the background, I heard the principal on the phone talking to the parent about the need for medical assistance. The principal continually apologized for waking the parent up and I could hear the parent yelling, “Don’t tell me how to raise my son.” I helped transport the student home. The family was waiting to take him to the hospital. Most of them were puffy-eyed and when the door opened it looked like the set of a Cheech and Chong movie. Looked like a straight up dragon’s lair. Dirk the Daring would be scared (points to whoever gets that one). A sober looking person arrived and took the student to the hospital. It was 10:15 AM
I was more disillusioned than usual. A teacher had organized a food drive for some of our disadvantaged families. I had donated a few items and agreed to stay after school and deliver to a couple families. What I saw amazed me. Even though this teacher had been collecting for weeks, I had expected to deliver a couple baskets of pasta sauce. What I found was that this teacher had stayed after school every night until 9:30 or 10:00 PM organizing and packing the food. I delivered for two families. My trunk and backseat were filled beyond capacity. I had to collect the boxes from rooms, walk-in refrigerators and the walk-in freezer. My partner had to ride with hams in her lap. My donations suddenly appeared to be drops in the ocean and several cars left the school to deliver food across the city.
The first family accepted everything with a quick thank you. At the second house, the door opened and kids poured out the front door. One student yelled, “Mom, mom! It’s that guy from school. My favorite guy!” I worked with this student three times last year for a total of 80 minutes. That’s it. I see him the halls each week and remind him how smart he is. I occasionally try to introduce him to people as “One our school’s brightest young men.” This guy is going to struggle in school but I try to give him something. Apparently it has worked.
I was completely humbled as the children helped unload the car. Their faces were absolutely beaming and a couple of them were hopping up and down flapping their arms. “Look at all this food!” Their faces were so lit up that you would have thought we had delivered X-Boxes. There were no toys and really no treats. Just a car load of food and yet I have rarely seen people as happy as these kids.
That experience really helped. Yes, there are people who Wake-N-Bake and get annoyed that their kid needs medical attention. However, there are kids who are purely grateful for boxes of cereal, fruit, milk, pasta and hams. There are also people who work hours after school quietly serving those in need with no expectation, or hope for, personal gain. I almost feel guilty that I got all the hugs and “thank-you’s” simply because I was a driver and a face on the delivery while the person who did the real work stayed behind and organized.
Regardless, there are a lot of really good people in this world and I am grateful for the reminder that I received this week.
Merry Christmas everyone.