There are times that it feels like a "big" small town. Where everyone is kind and helpful, if a bit nosy.
Then there are the times that sadden and shock me. Because when someone says they are from St. Louis, well that actual number is really quite small. "St. Louis" encompasses so many small municipalities and townships that I am often dumbfounded by the sheer number of city limit signs you pass driving up highway 70 to the airport.
The local news screams about districts, areas and counties. In the all too recent past this jumbled up group of individual towns that all get lumped together have even made the national and international news services.
As an outsider, I can tell you, it's a hard city to understand. I have had to learn lessons that I never learned in my life. I am not sure how well I have learned them now.
I want to share a story with you.
There is a hockey round two game. Meaning... first off "Let's GO BLUES", next... traversing the city to leave is going to be a nightmare! (I mean we have two sports that we are passionate about... Hockey and Baseball - both have the same outcome on traffic.)
Secondly, it's raining. I've lived all over this crazy planet and I have never witnessed rain being a magic potion that eliminates the driving skill of thousands of people all at once.
The path I usually take is fairly quick it's a simple two 4 lane divided city street, a couple of lights and a choice to take 44 or 55. Because in this city everyone knows you avoid highway 40 at all costs, especially during rush hour.
It was moving slow, as in a 10 minute drive out of town became a 35 minute drive to an even worse commute on the highway. A disabled vehicle in the right lane was making it worse.
I wasn't close enough to help, but an elderly man, quite frail and fragile looking was trying to fix a flat, he'd evidently hit one of our infamous pot holes. As I was debating on how I could possibly get over to help him, and how much help I was going to be. I mean, I haven't changed a tire in about 30 years, at least I don't recall doing so, since my dad MADE me learn before I could have a license.
It was then that I noticed a big guy parked a bit ahead of him with his hazards flashing, rushing up to help. He was young, strong and looked like he could have bench pressed that car to get it out of the traffic lane. Watching him rush up to help, filled me with not only pride, but hope.
My heart soared even higher when I watched the young woman in the car with him, rush out, grasping her umbrella to hand them for shelter, she didn't stay under it, she walked further down the road to direct traffic away from them. The night in shining armor and the wise old man who'd already slain his dragons.
Yep, I believe in fairy tales. And I believe that even in a town such as this, that the pure and honest good in people can overcome so many things! This town is very racially divided, still. This tears at my heart. It isn't something I always understand.
I tend to see people in two buckets and two buckets only. Either you are a good person (flawed or not) or you are a bad person (someone that just doesn't care who you hurt with your actions or words).
I deliberately left the race of these wonderful people out of my story. But in a town such as this can sometimes be, it was what made it the most poignant part of the story. That young couple didn't think twice, that old man graciously accepted their help. In a neighborhood that is questionable. Where lives are often viewed as disposable, I watched love, compassion and concern.
Maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when we no longer see colors of skin. When we see the goodness of the heart and soul. Maybe that shining moment will happen when hatred, fear, and all the other ugly things will face that kind of love and light.
Can you imagine it? In a pouring cold rain, I watched the proof before my very eyes.
I hope that incredibly unselfish young man and his beautiful compassionate woman will continue to be just that. Rescuing those that need their help, regardless of their personal discomfort, because it is the right thing to do. And I hope that old man proved that wisdom comes with age and was gracious and thankful...
Yep... this city is full of surprises... and I am thankful for the one I witnessed.
It restored my faith...