She pushes a cart in the parking lot. She is a redhead. Pale skin.
There are four Hispanic girls with her. She says something in Spanish. They all laugh. She laughs.
These are happy folks.
She met them last year. She knocked on her Mexican neighbors’ front door one evening. She offered to babysit the girls free of charge, since the family was having hard times making ends meet.
Since then, she’s been watching the girls for three years. She also teaches them to read and write English.
Today, she’s teaching baking. She took them to the supermarket because they’re going to make gingerbread, yogurt-covered pretzels, cookies, fudge, you name it.
Then, there’s the old man. I saw him. He was walking to the public restroom, using a cane, holding a young woman for balance.
“Almost there, Daddy,” she said.
They reached the bathroom; she opened the door and followed him inside.
“No, Daddy, let me help,” I overheard her say before the door closed.
What a good daughter.
And the twenty-year-old kid, Jerod. I watched him play basketball. He was teaching other kids to play at the county foster-child facility.
He is an orphan who grew up in foster care. He teaches them because he is them. They trust him.
“I know what it’s like not having nobody,” he said. “I want’em to know somebody cares, that’s all everyone needs.”
Jerod seems too young to be so wise.
And the woman. She was ringing a handbell outside the supermarket. She was tall, angel-faced. She was wearing a Santa cap, singing.
She set her bell down to relax her hand muscles.
A kid approached and asked if he might ring the bell for her.
“Knock yourself out, kid,” she said.
He rang it in rhythm, and sang. His voice was loud, and steady. He closed his eyes to sing.
People tossed money in the bucket by the handful.
This morning, I am writing you from a hotel lobby. The woman at the front desk handed me a complimentary newspaper.
The headline turned my stomach.
I set the paper down and watched the morning news instead. A reporter smiled and talked for ten minutes about sex scandals, sex scandals, then briefly spoke on scandals involving sex.
Suddenly, I’m nauseous. And offended, somehow. I suppose that’s how they want me to feel.
Anyway, if you’re reading this, you’ve figured out I’m nobody. I’m Joe Sixpack with a mortgage. I am words on your phone-screen. And I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t know much.
But I do know a few things.
For one: I know foster kids who grow up to be heroes. I know babysitters who bake gingerbread with Mexican kids who call her “Tia,” even though she is not blood kin.
I know dogs who need adopting, I know children who need companionship, and priests in Dothan, Alabama, who cook turkeys for the unfortunate at Christmas.
I know daughters who help fathers in public restrooms. And I’ve seen college-educated women ringing bells in public, God-blessing anyone who will give her hand a break.
I don’t care what you see on TV. This world is more than sex scandals and crooked politics.
A hell of a lot more.