15 June 2012

The (not so) Good Samaritan

One of Christ's best known parables is the Good Samaritan.  The parable, recorded in the book of Luke, tells the story of a man who is beaten and robbed and is passed over by a priest and a Levite. A Samaritan sees him and cares for him and insured that he would be cared for until he recovered.  That act has come to symbolize being empathetic and caring for our fellowman.

I had a couple of Samaritan encounters this week.  First, I was the beneficiary. Earlier this week, I had meetings downtown.  I parked in a lot that only took cash, so in the pouring rain, I had to run across the street to an ATM and then dash over to the office where I had my meeting.  Somewhere on that run, I lost my employee ID badge, which is akin to gold.  I did not realize this until I got back to my office a couple of hours later.  I was getting on a plane that afternoon and I was up the proverbial creek.  As I sat stewing in my office, my phone rang and I ignored my cardinal rule - if you don't recognize the number, it goes to voicemail - and picked up.  The person identified himself and said he'd found my badge and wanted to know how he could get it back to me.  I could not believe it.  My badge has no other information than my company name and my name and my picture, in which I look like an agitated employee ready to go postal.  He took the time to call my company's main switchboard and then tracked me down.  I was pretty overwhelmed by this act.  Since I had to blow by downtown on my way to the airport, we agreed to meet so I could pick up my badge.  When I got to his office building, he came down with my badge and could not have been more gracious.  "I've been there, man," he said as he gave me my badge.  I offered him some cash as a reward and he refused it, saying he was just glad to help.  I was grateful for this act of kindness (not that he didn't take the cash but that he'd bothered to track me down).

I thought of this man's kindness as well as the aforementioned parable during the boarding of my flight this afternoon.  An elderly couple boarded and took the bulkhead row.  The man was tasked with putting the rollaboards in the overhead bin.  As he began lifting one, it was clear there was no way he was getting the bag past his knees, let alone into the overhead.  The people in the aisle behind him made no effort to assist him and there wasn't a flight attendant to be found. It was time to do something good for my fellowman.  I jumped up and took the bag from the man and put into the overhead.  He was said thanks and turned around to sit back down.  It was simple to do and I felt good that I'd done it.  Then it went south.

After he sat down, his wife remained standing and the flight attendant walked by them carrying someone's rollaboard.  Turns out the bag belonged to the wife. As the flight attendant walked by her, she began to shriek, in a voice oiled by a lot of cigarettes and Sanka, "Excuse me!  Excuse me!  Where are you going with that!?"  She was indignant.  Had she bothered to look up, she would have seen that the overhead bins were full.  The flight attendant was trying to find a place as close to the lady's row as possible.  Said flight attendant began to explain that he was trying to find a place for her bag.  Said shrew wasn't hearing it.  I just shook my head, felt sorry for the old man for what he's had to put up with over the years, and thought that the shrew didn't deserve anyone doing her any favors.

It's safe to say that I probably missed the point of the parable of the Good Samaritan with that closing thought.  I guess I've still got some learning to do.

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