I was at the store not too long ago when I overheard an older woman observe to another person in line how rude and inconsiderate kids are today. As I bumped her cart out of the way, cut in front of her and quickly started to put all of my purchases on the counter, I wondered if she was right. Are our nation’s youth a bunch of self-centered individuals?
Later, I had several thoughts as I replayed the woman’s comments over in my head. First, I hate it when people make generalizations. And everybody does it. Second, and more importantly, I wanted to be able to disprove her theory. It was at a Norwich hockey game that I found proof that there are some good, unselfish kids out there.
I was standing at the rail at a packed game, watching the home team face off against a tough Babson squad. A gentleman standing next to me was in support of the visitors, and he was clearly a person who could be called a “rabid fan.” The way this guy was yelling, screaming, and jumping up and down you would have thought the seventh game of the Stanly Cup finals was being held in Northfield, Vermont. And this was just during the national anthem. Once the game started he really got ugly. To say this fan was a little obnoxious would be like saying a Wayne Gretsky slap shot might sting a little if it hit you in the shin. I took a minute to bookmark WebMD on my smartphone in the event this guy had a major coronary event while “cheering” and needed CPR.
By the second period Mr. Babson fan was still going strong, and I had lost most of the hearing in my right ear. Then I felt someone tap me from behind. I turned to see a high school-aged kid.
“Mister, did you drop that?” He asked pointing to a one hundred dollar bill lying at my feet.
I bent over and picked up the piece of currency. I have to admit that $100 bills are strangers to both my wallet and lifestyle, and I paused a minute to take it all in.
The first thing I observed was the face of the bill. I had always assumed currency of this large denomination would have an image of someone like Warren Buffett or Donald Trump, but it was Ben Franklin — the kite-flying inventor and statesman. My history isn’t all that good, but I know Ben was big on honesty. I remember a famous story about how he confessed to his father that he cut down a cherry tree at the risk of getting himself in trouble. I was pretty sure Mr. Franklin would be thrilled to know that all of these years later an honest teen would be turning in a lost piece of currency with his likeness on it.
I held the $100 bill in my hands for just a few seconds before the devil appeared on my left shoulder.
“Keep it!” he hissed into my ear. “Think of all of the wonderful things you could buy with it!”
He was right. I had a whole list of things I needed. Things like the Justin Bieber matching thermos and lunchbox combo and the complete DVD set of the seventies TV show Fantasy Island. And then there were the more frivolous purchases I wanted...
My imaginary shopping trip was interrupted by the appearance of an angel, who perched on my right shoulder.
“Give it back. That money does not belong to you,” he said.
The angel ended the debate with a roundhouse punch that sent the devil on my other shoulder all the way down to section 19 row C right next to the Zamboni room.
“It isn’t mine,” I told the kid. “Maybe we should ask this guy.”
The kid turned to Mega Fan.
“Mister, did you drop this?” He asked.
“Yeah,” the guy said. He took the bill, stuffed it into his pocket and went back to screaming like a banshee. And that was it. No, “Thanks a lot!” No, “Here’s $20 for your honesty.” Nothing.
I decided to distance myself from this bore and relocate to a different area to watch the rest of the game. I turned and shook the kid’s hand.
“Not too many people would have done that,” I said.
“Are you leaving?” he asked.
He immediately pushed by me, cut in front of a woman next to me, spilled some soda on the people in the section below and started to outshout my new best friend from Babson.
As I walked away I looked back and saw the kid elbow an old guy away from the rail to make room for a few of his buddies.
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