Remember the blog about empathy? Someone at Greg's work sight and other places was stealing from Greg because he's an easy target. We pled in earnest for empathy from those around Greg. Greg, largely noncommunicative as well as non-violent, cannot defend himself which makes him an easy target....
Life has a way of equaling out. It's uncanny, but evident more and more as I "mature" that something good always happens to cancel out something bad. In this case, a manager of Friendly's Restaurant near the Target and J. C. Penney store south of Harrisburg gave us our holiday greeting, this time in the form of $.
Yesterday, I walked into bowling. Jay, Greg and I have bowled in a special needs league called the Red Strikers (at Red Crown) every Saturday morning for about 15 years now. It's like the bar in Cheers where everybody knows everybody else and we feel like we've come home every time we go. Beverly Jones, the money collector at the arrival point gestured to me and said, "Martha, come here." After a few hugs and some greetings, I walked over to the counter where the bowlers lined up to pay.
Bev lifted up a plastic bag with some dollar bills inside. The bag said, "Greg Squaresky," and I had no idea what I was looking at. I even saw something that looked like a receipt inside the bag. Confused, I held it up to Bev. I hadn't known about the loss of money because Greg's group home had already made up the difference in his account.
Bev told me the most amazing story of a random act of kindness. Apparently, she was at Friendly's recently and the manager handed her the plastic bag and said, "If anybody is going to know this guy, you will," as he handed her the bag. He knew of Bev's involvement with special people and took a chance. An incredible coincidence?
Bev doesn't know every special person in the Harrisburg area. It's impossible. There are hundreds of them. But she certainly knows Greg. In fact, her daughter was one of the intrepid souls who babysat our son while he was growing up. Ashley is in my book, A SPOT ON THE WALL. What are the chances that Greg would get that lost money back?
To me, impossible. It was only $4.00, not a fortune by any means. All the more reason for the finder to pocket it and write it up to "Finders Keepers."
Integrity is one of Milton Hershey's sacred values, and you can be sure that I will share the details of this incredible story with my Milton Hershey students when I return to school from Thanksgiving vacation. After all, in an attempt to teach my 8th graders empathy, I told them all about the despicable thieves who stole Greg's backpack, his brand new Alaska cap that said "John Moose" on it and his winter coat, right off his back! They knew Greg could not speak up for himself. Now I will get to tell them about the honesty of the employees of Friendly's who found Greg's money, probably on the floor, and saved it with the hope of returning it to him. That's integrity.
Friendly's has earned a loyal customer. Everyone I know will hear about this. As I write, I have a tear in my eyes. Maybe, just maybe, Greg will be OK after I die. There are people out there who will get the job done for us. Boy, did I ever need a story like this during the holiday season!
During Christmas vacation, I will take Greg back there to thank the manager and someone is going to get a huge holiday tip! What will be gratifying is that the finder probably doesn't even care about a tip. He has empathy. It's worth far more than money. I'd take a friendship with someone empathetic rather than someone with money any time.
Holiday miracles do happen. I am thankful to say that I now have a story to tell after I tell of the thefts. A yin for a yang. A story of integrity to combat a story of dishonesty. Empathy. It's got more power than anything else. No wonder it is Milton Hershey's focus this year. It should be our focus every year.
Thank you, Friendly's.
Greg recognized his Baggie with the missing money. He immediately pocketed it!