I am not, almost needless to say, an especially good person. Not a bad person, mind you. But very little of my time or energy is spent for the benefit of others. I volunteer nowhere. I give infrequently and stingily to charity. Rationalizing the whole thing by pointing to the writing: the writing is my good work. It brings comfort to people, surely. Maybe.
Well, it's possible.
That said, when I find myself in a situation where good needs to be done, and there is no obvious third party I can off-load the doing of the good upon, I try not to shirk my duty. If a person struggling with sobriety reaches out to me, I do what I can to help that person, best I can, a phone conversation or an hour over coffee or a phone call, trying to find a space where they can get help. Beyond that, I love giving directions on the street. I am overjoyed when sat next to babies on airplanes, looking forward to the moment when the baby starts howling, and the parent shoots an exhausted, "How is this going over?" look in my direction, and I get to nod sympathetically and say, "We've all been there..."
During the hour open mike session at the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill two weeks ago, one of the poets ended his reading by getting down on one knee and proposing to his girlfriend. I wasn't quick enough to get a photograph of that, but I did get a passable picture when she came up to accept. I was seated right in front of the stage, and as his people seemed further off, I might have been the only one to get a shot.
I don't know who the poet was, or his girlfriend, and since then I tried to shrug the whole thing off. But had he dropped a pair of gloves, I'd take steps to get them back to him—being, as I said, the kind of person who tries to do the right thing when it lands at his feet and can't be avoided. And I figure this photo, of their romantic moment, might be something a couple might value as the years went on, certainly more than I'll value it being photo No. 44,135 on my iPhoto stash in the Cloud. I suppose I could quiz Slam founder and master-of-ceremonies Marc Kelly Smith about the poet's identity, but my guess is he doesn't have them memorized, and would have no idea. Besides, he's busy, with poetical matters, and I don't like to bother him. So I decided the easiest thing to do would be to toss it up here. Word will probably get back to him, or her, and one of them can ask for the photos. If it doesn't, well at least I tried, which is the low standard that I set for myself.