My son-in-law went on a toilet paper run yesterday.
That’s nothing out of the ordinary for a brisk spring day in the year of COVID-19
He texted me a photo of the parking lot where he was sitting in his truck before dawn.
The supermarket didn’t open until 8 a.m. but he was there before 7. The parking lot was looking pretty empty, so the chances were good he’d score some rolls and maybe a few extra. He was psyched and focused on his mission, sure that he’d be successful.
That’s what he wrote to me as he sat in the cold and waited for the store to open.I didn’t hear from him until an hour and fifteen minutes later – fifteen minutes after the official opening of the store.
I wasn’t surprised by his answer.
I didn’t have time to ask him what happened. He sent me this photo right away:
The size of the crowd didn’t surprise me, but what I questioned was his position in that line. How did a guy who came to the store first end up getting aced out by all those people? And where did all those people come from, if Jason was there first? My son-in-law is 6’ 5” and a talented athlete, a consummate competitor. How did this swarm of old folks (judging by a lot of greying hair there in the photo) get the top position over my son-in-law? How come he ended up at the end of the line?
Tears don’t normally fill my eyes when I read texts, but they did now.
I couldn’t write a word to him.
I was so paralyzed by the abundance of his kindness.
Jason is the original Mr. Good Guy, an educator, a champion for all, with a heart of amazing dimensions, a guy who is loyal, honest, and filled with soul. In one word, the man is my hero. His superhero powers were at work again and I was stunned into silence.
But what he wrote next gave me pause.
My heart hurt for Jason. Yes, it’s a blow not to be able to get what you need right now, and certainly toilet paper has taken on a whole new importance in our life. But to lose your hope, your faith in humanity is a loss we cannot afford right now. We especially can’t have our heros lose it. Not just Jason, but every health care person who is on the front lines, every grocery store and big box retail worker, every policeman, fire fighter, and yes, every government official, who is still on the job when the rest of us are safely within our sanctuaries known as home; they all have to continue doing what all heroes do, and not lose hope.
This is a reminder for all the Jasons, and everyone doing their best right now, making sacrifices, and still reaching out to help, not only to their families, but to strangers who have never meant anything to them, strangers who stopped being strangers once we saw the hurt, the fear, and the need in their faces that we recognized as our own. When someone shows you kindness, don’t just pay it forward. Pay it back to the person who started it. We need all the heros we can find right now. And yes, that #humanity should stand for that. For remembering that we must all be heros right now.
Even if it means offering a single roll of toilet paper.
And saying thanks to the one who let us go first.