Monday, March 28, 2011

The Kids Are All Right

After arriving home from a family outing to Rango, I noticed my cell phone was missing. It was a miracle to notice this within an hour of leaving the theater, rather than say, two weeks later, but that is a different post titled “I Hate Cell Phones.” This post is not about hate—it is about hate’s opposite, though I have not yet figured out what that is.

I called the theater to see if I had left the phone there, and a young man I will call Pat answered. I don’t call him Pat to protect his anonymity, but because I can’t remember his name. Pat asked many clarifying questions as to where in the theater I was sitting and what the phone looked like.

“The movie ends at 9:25,” Pat said. “I will go in at 9:28 to look for your phone. You can expect a call back from me—hopefully telling you I have your phone.”

Yeah, right, I thought, like he’ll remember. “Or I could call you at 9:35,” I said.

“You could do that,” Pat said.

Pat called at 9:42. “I am happy to say I have good news. I have your phone in my hand.”

Pat actually seemed to care whether I got my phone.

When my cousin worked at Pottery Barn, customers would send letters to her manager raving about her service. I couldn’t imagine what could be so great about service that you’d be compelled to write a letter. But somehow, on a snowy February night, a 19-year-old had my back while I wasn’t expecting it or thinking I needed it, and it was such a relief.

I don’t know how to describe Pat’s manner: it wasn’t kindness, exactly, though that was there. It wasn’t politeness, or even helpfulness, though those were there also. It was more like humanity. Goodwill. He was naturally engaged, interested, open. I wondered what his parents were like, and whether they were proud to have such a lovely son. I hope they are proud of themselves.

And I hope my children and I grow up to be this altruistic.

Wikipedia: Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty and duty. Altruism focuses on a motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward

This post for Susan. If she can write a long thoughtful post, so can I.


  1. I can just see how each of our second novels is going to be written…

  2. Via competition and compliments.

  3. Why is this the first time I am aware you are a blogger? One year ago, when three of us gave the presentation on blogs, you said not a word. Wish you'd given some input and added to what Jennie, Kathy and I said. I'll be checking in now and then to see what you have to say. Looking forward to more like the above, which was good!