Yesterday I was rushing to the post office when I tripped on an uneven bit of sidewalk and fell on one knee, my weight twisting the booted ankle of my other leg. My slacks were torn, I was embarrassed, and passersby walked around me, not seeming to notice but actually sparing me further humiliation--after all, I was clearly unhurt.
As I walked on, I was relieved to find that my ankle hadn't become sprained or strained and the graze on my knee wasn't very deep. It wasn't until I completed my errand and began to return home that I reached in my pocket for my apartment keys. They were gone--apparently my balance wasn't the only thing I'd lost a few minutes earlier.
I hurried back to the scene of my spill which had taken place near the large glass window of a residential hotel. Elderly ladies frequently sat in the lobby and watched the world whirl by. Perhaps one of them had seen my keys rocket away and had picked them up--but she would have shouted the news to me as I hobbled away. I began to scan the sidewalk with little hope, telling myself silently precisely how idiotic I had been not to zip the keys into my handbag.
They were gone. There was nothing metallic gleaming on the cement where I'd fallen. I raised my head, feeling a little sick, when a man working nearby, small, smiling, Southeast Asian, asked "Did you lose your keys?"
"Yes," I admitted and he said "I found them. I've been waiting for you to come back so I would be sure that the right person got them." He pointed to a sign tacked to a tree at the side of the street; hanging from one of the tacks was a set of keys that belonged to me. He handed them to me. "When you lose your keys, you're in big trouble," he said and I thanked him with every particle of gratitude that I possessed.
I took a few steps away, then turned back with five dollars in my hand. As I approached him, he backed away. "No," he told me. "You are so kind," I said again, and an old man walking past smiled and said "Vietnam people are good." We all three smiled at each other and once again I felt a deep sense of joy for being lucky enough to live in my neighborhood.
Merry Christmas to all. May we all care for each other as much as the man on the street did for me yesterday.