The cable guy came by today. He was installing equipment. He waltzed inside to test our cable box. He wore boots and a tool belt and had prodigious tattoos on his forearms.
He removed my new remote from the plastic package. The television flickered to life.
The first thing we saw was a news channel. The text on the screen read: MASS SHOOTING.
The TV showed a subway platform filled with weeping New Yorkers. Some were limping. Some were crying. Others were bleeding. Police officers were everywhere.
Flashing blue lights. Sirens. Ambulances. Screaming. Badges. Stretchers. Crime-scene barricades. News cameras.
The news anchor appeared on the screen and spoke in an adrenal primetime voice:
“…In Brooklyn, a gunman in a gas mask and construction vest set off a smoke canister on a rush-hour subway train and then opened fire, shooting at least 10 people, at least 29 are believed to be injured or wounded… ”
The cable guy and I watched the madness within America’s most famous borough, happening 965.4 miles away from us.
The cable guy said, “My sister lives in Brooklyn, man.”
His mood changed completely. He quickly removed his phone and fired off a few texts. He told me he was texting his sister to see if she was okay. I told him I understood.
He waited for her text-responses, but none came.
He was anxious. The kid was supposed to be demonstrating the capabilities of my new cable box, but clearly his head wasn’t in it. And frankly, neither was mine.
“Are you from New York?” I asked.
“New Jersey,” he said. “But I have family and friends in Brooklyn.”
He kept scrolling channels. He landed on another news station. The correspondent was reporting from Ukraine. She was wearing a bullet proof vest.
“…Many, many bodies have been exhumed from the rubble on the outskirts of Kyiv, among the bodies was a Ukrainian soldier. Many others of the hundreds killed were civilians, including young children, elderly people, and…”
“What’s this world coming to,” the kid said.
He landed on a program featuring a televangelist, shouting at his congregation, spittle forming at the corners of his mouth. The preacher’s hair looked greasier than a gas station eggroll.
The Bible beater said something to the tune of:
“…For the time hath cometh that judgment must begin in the house of God! And if we, his children, hope to avoid the wrath of that terrible day, God asks only that ye shall buy my book for only four easy payments of $19.99, and ye shall…!”
The kid changed the channel. The young New Jerseyan checked his phone every couple seconds for an incoming text from his sis.
We landed on a channel featuring a bunch of angry people marching outside a courthouse, holding handmade signs, shouting slogans that were primarily comprised of cuss words.
We saw two young women clawing at each other, pulling each other’s hair, wearing swimwear so tiny their suits looked like strategically positioned bottle caps.
Flip, flip, flip.
Two politicians were doing the same thing, except their suits offered more coverage.
A news reporter said: “…This year, New York City has faced an outbreak of shootings and bloodshed, including on the subways. In January, one woman was pushed in front of a train by a stranger and was instantly…”
The cable guy said, “There’s so much hate in the world. What’s wrong with us?”
That’s when the kid stopped on a channel that ran a news story we both desperately needed to see.
“…Recently,” the reporter said, “a pancake fundraiser raised 6,500 dollars for the family of Jeremy Doroscha…”
The story was about Jeremy Doroscha, who lived in Eaton Township, Michigan. He was a farmer, a hot-air balloonist, father of three, and his smile was brilliant. About a month ago an explosion occurred at the 43-year-old’s house, throwing him from the home. The home went up in an inferno.
Immediately, Jeremy hobbled to his feet, suffering from second- and third-degree burns that covered 60 percent of his body. He limped inside the flaming house to save his 4-year-old daughter, Aubrey. Three days later, he died in a Grand Rapids hospital, and his daughter lives.
The screen showed Jeremy’s photo, holding his small blond daughter in his arms. It showed the child’s beautiful face, and the smile of a proud dad.
Finally the cable guy turned the television off.
We were both silent for a little while, thinking of Jeremy. And I felt my heart move sideways when I thought of the vast depth of love that exists inside a dad’s heart. Because even though sometimes it seems like humankind is always trying to deface, disfigure or demolish one another, then you have Jeremy Doroscha.
Then the cable guy’s phone dinged. He covered his mouth as he read an incoming text.
“My sister’s safe,” he announced. “Thank God.”
May God bless Brooklyn.