Today began with the best of intentions. Like some kind of “Good Deed Avenger,” from the minute I left the house in the morning, I was on the lookout for anyone who might need help. But it seemed that everywhere I went, people kept turning the tables on me — insisting I take the open seat on the bus, holding the elevator open for me. I had discussed such an eventuality with my 18-year-old niece the night before.
“What if I’m stuck for good deeds to do?” I asked her.
“That’s easy,” she chirped, while simultaneously texting a friend, listening to her iPod and doing English homework. “Compliment an old person.”
Apparently, she does this on a regular basis during her after-school grocery cashier job.
“I’ll tell them how great their blue hat or awesome earrings or whatever look on them and their whole face lights up. You can tell they don’t ever hear that.”
I think of her advice as I walk towards the subway entrance, my day coming to a close with no good deeds done, but I seem to be the oldest person on the entire block. Then I spot him. A short, squat fellow with – I can hardly believe it – a blue hat. He hands me a thin newspaper and I realize it’s a $1.00 paper sold to employ the homeless. I pull out my dollar and smile, about to compliment him on his blue hat, but he beats me to it.
“You look nice,” he says.
“Thanks,” I reply, wondering if he knows my niece. I glance down at the cover and recognize his picture. “Is that…?”
“Yup, that’s me,” he smiles, his lips chapped and raw. “I find a quote for every one and it goes on the cover.”
And this is what it said:
“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”
— Simon Cameron, 1798-1889
This definitely made me smile — the tables turned on me once again.