I hope you’ll forgive me a little story.
I was pretty grumpy as I left the house that morning.
I had gotten up early so I could get into the office well before anyone else. Maybe actually get something done.
I pulled into Dunkin Donuts for an iced tea. (I’ll never learn to like coffee.)
As I waited, I was still grumbling.
Traffic. Why do slow drivers insist on getting in the left lane?!
And why was the car in front of me taking so long?!
Seriously, how hard is it to pay for your order and get going?!
Finally, it was my turn.
That’s when I learned the person taking so long had been paying for my tea.
I felt like a jerk.
I got to the office and learned our very old building had suffered a septic system problem overnight.
Great. No water, no bathrooms. Also, almost every printer was out of toner, and I couldn’t find more. It was shaping up to be one of those days.
I would have headed home to work and whine, but at 10, I had scheduled an interview.
My organization at the time, Charter Oak Cultural Center, was a multi-cultural arts center using the arts to foster social justice. One way we did that was with programs for people who are homeless.
Reinaldo was one of those people.
I set my little flip camera on a wobbly stool with a few reams of paper as a tripod, and we began to talk about his life.
I learned about the drama scholarship he won years ago in New York.
I learned about his job at Shearson Lehman Brothers downtown.
Then he told me about the September day in 2001 when he was uncharacteristically late for work.
Being late saved his life – and dealt him a blow he was still struggling to recover from.
You can still see the interview on their Youtube channel. He had a remarkable story. Reinaldo had been through so much. He was deeply scarred. He was also incredibly insightful and even… optimistic.
Somehow having no tonor or toilets didn’t mean much anymore.
I headed home and went for a walk with my son, feeling thoughtful and very aware of my good fortune.