Since my daily “Writer’s Almanac” is gone, i have come to a new morning routine when i sit down in front of this infernal machine (oh, how i would love to return to the old Royal manual typewriter where the click of the keys and swoosh, that lovely mechanical swoosh of the return roller sounded like music, a percussion symphony to me, but although i admittedly am a romantic, i also am a relatively practical man as well — my parents and the Navy made me so — and this computer contraption allows easier, much easier editing, even though i am pretty careless about such things as grammar and editing; so i will continue to sit down each morning and stare at the magic light emanating from this addictive electronic wonder).
My new routine includes posting a “Murphy’s Law” item, which i pasted on to past calendars; checking my email and Facebook posts; and then reading Sean Dietrich’s email of his daily articles — i’m continually amazed at the amount of research he does to get good stories to report.
This morning, i read Sean’s article, and began to think about it:
It’s rather inspiring to think of good people with so little giving what they can and sometimes more than they can afford in helping others through acts of kindness or just some money. i would like to emulate the good folks in Sean’s stories, but i’m just a bit too lazy to go that far out of my way. After all, i have my own interests and my wife, my other loved relatives need security; so i don’t feel like i can afford it. Like most people i know, as my wife says, “paying yourself first.”
i’m also concerned about getting ripped off. i’ve had that happen in the past: Someone coming up to me, supposedly in dire straits, explaining their situation, and asking me to give them just a little bit of cash to help them fill their gas tanks to get to some place, provide a much needed meal, help them get a train ticket, convincing my gullible, wanting-to-help self to fork over the requested cash, only to realize, post scam, that i had been had, ripped off; even worse, fooled.
Then, i thought of my father. You see, back when the folks would come out every winter, long before south of the border became potentially deadly, we would cross the border at Tijuana for Mother to buy special things like glass animals, stained glass, and Mexican rugs for herself and others; and Daddy and i marvel at the thousands of shops, kiosks, tents, and street salesmen — once at a garden shop, he and i actually considered buy a ceramic, full-size replica of the creature from “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Our plan was to buy it and ship it to my brother with no return address. We would have done it, too, had not the shipping costs been about quadruple the cost of the statue.
But that’s another story. My recollection was from returning across the border on one of our adventures. We always parked on the U.S. side and walked across, returning the same way. Back then, the route to the border crossing for walkers was lined with all sorts of cheap goods sellers. Black velvet paintings of flamenco dancers and Elvis were very popular. Glass and stone jewelry and nicknacks were plentiful, and just about anything cheap and gaudy lined the path to the crossing. And near the end was a rather shocking number of beggars. Right before we entered the processing line, a mother, dirty and dressed in rags, pushed her daughter, probably around three-years old, toward my father. The little girl, wearing a soiled white dress and barefoot, had a sign asking for gum. Daddy reached into his pocket.
i admonished him to keep walking, explaining this was just a means to get something from us, that actually giving them something would only encourage more beggars at the border. i knew. i knew because someone told me that. My father thought about my admonition, looked at the little girl with the big dark eyes and tear stains through the dirt on her face, dug into his pocket and gave her a quarter. The girl’s mother went super thankful and “Gracias” seemed to never stop as we proceeded to the border crossing. Me? i felt ashamed of my admonition and proud of my father.
But back to my thoughts on Sean’s article. As i read, i thought of my…what should i call it? philosophy? That sounds a bit too sophisticated for me. Okay, my ideas about life. i thought about my recent railings about pro sports. Tony Clarke, a San Diego native and a very good baseball player for the Arizona Diamondbacks who also had a cup of coffee with the Padres, is now the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (you know: the union).
This week, Tony declared teams not paying the asking price for free agents this season suggested collusion by the owners and was detrimental to the integrity of the game. Tony was echoing Scott Boras intimation because Scott’s demand for his player, Eric Hosmer, had not been met, no one had signed for Scott’s asking price of $100 Million and a seven-year contract.
This is insane. No, no baseball player is worth one quarter of $100 Million, much less Scott’s asking price. This year’s minimum, MINIMUM salary for a major league baseball player through one season is $545,000. That’s not integrity. That’s sick. And of course, the owners are getting richer with crazy television revenue, seat prices escalating to absurdity, and so much more. The cheapest seats for two in the nosebleed sections of Petco Park run $46. Hot dogs are $4.00, peanuts are $2.00. The cheapest beer is $7.00. Even water is $2.50. Parking in decent places runs $20. It’s damn near impossible to go to a game with someone and come out spending less than $100, not counting the tickets.
Integrity? Everyone in MLB (and NFL, NBA, and NHL) lives in an insane world.
And just what if, what if, everyone of those financial clowns (after all, it has to be funny or i’ll cry), not just in sports, but in entertainment, corporate gluttony, political parties, and politicians themselves, quit trying to amass fortunes which should only be in cartoons and comic strips, and actually give some to individuals. And i’m not talking about Sean’s part-time truck driver and a night-shift security guard, a dad with two daughters, or John D. Rockefeller passing out dimes to the needy who passed his way. i’m talking about giving to the less fortunate till it hurts a little bit. Not through their appointed charity organizations where the CEO of the non-profits get salaries in the millions, but them making the effort to actually give someone something, face to face.
But maybe, just maybe after i have been thinking about it, i’ll start giving just a little bit more, face-to-face to someone in need.