There are two things you should know about me: (a) I shower twice a day, and (b) I never pick up hitchhikers.
Thus, when I saw a shaggy boy using his thumb — a tactic often used by serial killers — I surprised myself. I broke my own rule and pulled over.
His name is Ethan. He’s hitchhiking across the southern U.S. to Texas. “It’s kind of an experiment,” said the innocuous ball of facial hair. “To see if folks are nice enough to help a complete stranger.”
“But, don’t you think hitchhiking is dangerous?”
“Nah, I believe humans are good.”
The fact is, despite mankind’s flaws, I’m inclined to agree with my smelly-ass friend. Only, I don’t need to swear off showering prove it.
You want kindness? I once watched a man coax a confused dog from the middle of a four-lane highway. The stray mutt was half-blind with cataracts. When it was over, I’m not sure which of them was more grateful to be alive.
How about this: in my aunt’s neighborhood, three teenagers mow an old man’s lawn once a week. No charge. They’ve been doing it since his hip surgery five years ago. And as I understand, they still do. Except, they’re college-age now.
Then, there’s the time I met an elderly man who lived in a tent. He and his son camped behind the Catholic church. “I’m the pope,” the man said, “I always sleep near my blessed chapels.”
The man’s son was older than me, he explained, “Pardon my dad, he’s senile. If I didn’t stay with him, there’s no telling what would happen.” He smiled a gap-toothed grin. “I love my dad.”
There’s no doubt about that, friend.
You can say what you want about the state of humankind. And God knows, you have a right to think the worst of us. Because we’re selfish animals, and several of us could stand some grooming — namely, Ethan.
But I believe something good lives in people. Something transcending common evil. Others believe it stronger than I do. And they’re willing to bet their thumbs on it.
I hope young Ethan finds whatever he’s after.
Say, for instance, a shower.