OFF THE CUFF

During this unprecedented time in human history, it’s hard not to be at least a little bit apprehensive about where things are headed.

With the coronavirus situation progressing – as I heard someone say today – like a “fast-moving target,” there’s really no way to know what’s about to happen in a literal sense. And we can’t compare with what happened or what we did last time, because there is no last time.

But at the same time, it’s a period for long-time observers of human nature, like myself, to get a glimpse of humanity’s good side. Not that everyone is “coming together in love,” because right now social media is overloaded with stupid, mean-spirited “posts” and remarks made by people who find the current crisis to be nothing more than another launching pad for habitual negativity and weak-minded nonsense.

But I’ve had two brushes with simplistic niceness over the past few days that I wouldn’t have been witness to if not for the COVID-19 landslide.

I went to the McDonald’s drive-through last Sunday morning because I had a hankering for a chicken biscuit. I’m not talking about the grilled, skinless (and more or less tasteless) kind, but the kind with a deep fried patty of bird meat covered with mysterious seasonings.

I ordered three, because I wanted to save a couple for later. When I got to the payment window, I began to hand cash to the young lady working it, but in a sort of quiet tone she said, “that’s not necessary sir; the car in front of you paid for your order.”

I was so taken back. I didn’t know what to say and a tear welled up in my eye. I don’t know if the person or people inside the car in front of me noticed, but I smiled and waved as it pulled away from the pick-up window.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but keep pondering how cool that was.

Then the other day, I was talking with a friend and he said that over the weekend he and his wife were going to order dinner to be picked up from a local eatery. But instead, they decided to use the same money to buy a meal from the same place for a less fortunate woman and her two children.

My friend said his wife said something like, “we have plenty of food we can scrounge up and eat, and she could probably use a nice pre-cooked meal.”

They even delivered the food.

“That is so cool, man,” I said. 

Then I told him about my pay-it-forward experience at Mickey D’s.

“That’s one of the things people can do to help everyone make it through this a little easier,” he said. “More than ever, we have to be considerate of others right now.”

As usual, I analyzed that statement in my brain after we parted. And it’s true.

The thing is, you might not think it’s that big of a deal to stand closer than six feet away from someone in the post office lobby, but they might not be comfortable with that and the only civil, right-minded thing to do is acknowledge the fact that you don’t know and respect how that person might feel.

You might not think it’s a big deal for you to grab the last package of thin spaghetti off the shelf as an elderly woman eyes it at the same time, but it could be the last thing on her list and her list might be the last one she shops off of for a while.

The thing is, we just don’t know, so we have to act in favor of the other person in every way we can.

I’ve heard several people say that it’s hard to know exactly what in the Sam Hill is going on right now, but whatever it is, “we’re all in this together.”

Roger that. While we may not know what next month, next week or even tomorrow holds, the fact is we are indeed all in this together.

And while we may not know how or when, we’ll all get through it. And only God knows how.

Staff writer

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Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email him at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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