2/18/21

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

We hear and say a lot about the little things. Little things mean a lot. Little things make a difference. It’s the little things in life. Little steps. We’re even told to not sweat over the small stuff.

2020 was all about the big things. 2021 hasn’t been much different yet. We aren’t just sniffling, we’re dealing with a pandemic. We’re seeing unprecedented numbers in illness, in hospitalizations, in deaths. We just had a huge election and a huge response to that election. We’ve had huge crimes against humanity in the last year. We’ve even had big weather. For heaven’s sake, Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas.

So…the little things. Small stuff.

On Tuesday, I was in a hurry when I ran out my front door. My car, in an attempt to get it out of the never-ending snow (big weather!), was parked across the street in the parking garage. As I turned to trot down the sidewalk, I caught sight of a small face looking at me out of a snowdrift.

No, not a child’s face. A small face, a photograph. I wondered if it was a driver’s license and so I pulled it out. It was a work ID badge, and a very, very nice work ID badge. Encased in a tough plastic holder, bearing a bar code, and a name. Zack. Who, according to this ID, worked in the physical therapy department of a senior living community in a nearby town. The ID told me he worked there since 2018. It didn’t tell me his last name. There was a belt clip, and even one of those stretchy retractable cord things that allowed you, or Zack, actually, to pull the ID from his person, beep it through a reader, then let it snap back against him. A neat way to prevent loss.

That didn’t work.

I was running late for an appointment. I knew Zack didn’t live nearby – I know all of my neighbors in my condo group. It wasn’t a matter of just dropping it off in a mailbox. So I tucked it in my pocket and ran for my car. As I drove toward my appointment, I called information and was connected to the senior living community.

After I explained to the receptionist what I found, I said, “I’d like to get this back to Zack. I’m sure these cost a pretty penny – you have great IDs!”

She laughed and said, “How nice of you! Do you think you could get a padded envelope, to protect it, and then mail it to us?” She then recited the address. I was so flabbergasted, and trying to concentrate on my driving on slippery roads, so I said, “Okay, but…can’t you…but…okay.” And I hung up. Afterward, I really wished I’d said, “Can’t you just call down to your physical therapy department and ask for Zack? Or patch me through?” But I didn’t.

I stewed over this through my appointment and on the drive home. I mean, really. It’s an ID. No big deal. Yeah, he’d have to shell out some bucks to replace it, most likely. But really. Have me mail it? I knew I couldn’t go there and drop it off – COVID kept visitors from coming in.

I should just throw it away and forget about it, I decided.

But I didn’t. I brought it in with me. And I posted about it on Facebook. This created a long list of suggestions. Put it back outside, in case Zack comes back to look for it. Hang it from a tree or a fence. I explained I live in the city, there are no trees, there is no fence, so then I was told to build a fence (all in fun – not serious). Put it in a plain envelope, slap a couple stamps on it, send it off. Call the senior community back and ask them to send me a postage-paid envelope.

While the Facebook reaction was growing, I met with a client, and during that meeting, the studio phone rang. When I could, I checked my voicemail.

“Hi, Kathie, my name is Zack. I think you have something of mine! Give me a call back, please, and thank you so much!”

I stared at my phone and laughed. Then I called him back and we arranged to have him pick up his badge. Apparently, he’d been picking up a package from near here and the ID must have fallen out of his pocket. I asked him how he got a hold of me.

“My friend Danielle – she called me and said you found my ID and were looking for me.”

So…someone not from the senior community. I went back and looked over the comments on my Facebook page. No Danielle. But someone somewhere saw it or heard about it and knew Zack and got him to me.

Six degrees of separation.

Small things.

When Zack came to pick up the ID, we both wore masks, but I could see that his face was the one that looked out at me from the snowbank. “Thank you so much,” he said. “This would have set me back a bit.”

“I figured,” I said. “It’s a nice ID badge.”

“I don’t have any cash on me, or I’d give you a reward,” he said.

I laughed. I mean, really. I wanted to get him the ID to save him money, not cost him money. “Don’t even think it,” I said. “I’m glad to help.”

“Well, I’ll pay the kindness forward then,” he said.

Perfect.

A little thing. And now he’ll do a little thing. And hopefully the chain will continue. It’s amazing how good it made me feel.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

…and offer it often. (from Sandra Boynton)

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