Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Little Christmas Miracle...

There's nothing more heart-wrenching than to see someone you know and appreciate hurting.  I hate seeing anyone suffer.  Yesterday one of my co-workers shared with me that another co-worker was in a bit of a jam--and really struggling with what he wanted to do and what would have to be done.  His mom, who is 93-years-young, is sick and lives in Nevada.  With money tight, there was no way he'd be able to afford a last minute plane ticket to Vegas.  His heart desperately wanted to be by his mom's side, but his wallet was telling him his choice wouldn't be ruled by his heart.  As he struggled with finding justifications as to why he couldn't go, anyone close to him could see the pain the decision was causing.

This isn't just anyone I work with either.  This is the guy who is always there for everyone.  When the windows in my classroom decided to let in the monsoon that was happening outside, he's the one I called--who by the way not only came immediately to help me move all my books off the shelves and save student work, but who also came bearing towels and buckets.  This happened not once, but two years in a row.  When I had my first puker last year--who, by the way, decided to hurl all over the desks, the floor, one recycle trash can, and all over the hallway--who came running to my aid?  Yup, same guy.  And he doesn't just help me out with the big things--when my pencil sharpener went kaput, or my bookshelf was falling apart, or I needed the "wall" between SS and LA closed off, or if the bulbs in the lights were out--and if a million other things went wrong, there was always that go-to guy to call.  And he always came to help me out, with a smile, chit-chat about our dogs (who are both Dutch Shepherds), and a kind word to go with it.  And he's not just this way with me--he's like this to our entire staff.

I remember when I was a student teacher and some solid advice I received from my mentor was the top three list of who to be nicest to in the building:

  1. Custodians
  2. Security
  3. Admin
And they were so right.  If you were an ass, forget about it.  Those were the top three--and he made the number one slot.  And while I've always been kind, and consider him one of my friends, I've had to ask myself the question--was I just being nice in case I needed something in return?  How crappy is that?  I mean seriously, other than the yearly Christmas cards and treats, when have I ever done anything to demonstrate my appreciation and friendship towards him?

So hearing about his struggling really left an ache in my heart.  Something needed to be done and fast.  Tomorrow's the last day before break.  There was literally a 24-hour window to make something happen.

Luckily, I work in a building filled with people who not only have generous hearts, but are generous with their wallets as well.  Even when the wallets aren't so full.  After all we are teachers, there's not a lot of green floating around.  We get paid once a month, on the 20th, so right now is the homestretch for most people's bank account.  The whole "Only five more days, let's make it stretch" mentality is going on for most.  But you'd never know it as my good friend and I traveled around the school, telling our co-workers about his dilemma.  There were some who got misty-eyed with the thoughts of him not being able to be with his mom; there were some who immediately opened their wallets and donated, and others who joined in to help collect.  Regardless of who we talked to, one thing remained the same--he meant something to every single person in the building.  Every single person.

To meet someone who impacts the lives of EVERYONE around them is not a norm.  As I heard people tell me their stories of how he's helped them or tell me how much they love him or how much he does for them all the time, it made me realize the power of human kindness and of karma.  Yes, I do believe in what comes around goes around.  And for the past few years he'd been going around for everyone, and now it was our turn to come around for him.

With the clock winding down, our staff raised over $450.00 for him.  This would be able to pay for his plane ticket and a car rental (thanks to our travel guru in counseling!).  After tucking the funds safely into a card purchased by another, I sought out one of my students.  I heard he was nestled in his office, so sent my student to seek him out.  Upon entering his office, my student said, "Go to Vegas," handed him the envelope, and walked away.

With a stunned expression, I'm only guessing here, he opened the envelope.  Later on when I met up with him in the counseling office, the tears in his eyes were filled with gratitude and relief.  Our wonderful, kind, and giving staff was able to make sure this man who does so much for all of us would be able to tend to his mother.

And this was the best little Christmas miracle to be a part of.  I'm so thankful to work with people, who at a moment's notice, take care of each other.  Definitely what Christmas is all about.

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