Just one shining cycle of the Golden RuleBy LaVERNE HAMMOND
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 29, 2003
Call it fate, a miracle or being at the right place at the right time. Even better, call it a double dose of the Golden Rule.
The first experience began when I received a telephone call from my friend Jaye.
"I know where your lost billfold is!" she said excitedly. I was puzzled. My billfold was safe in my purse, I thought. Jaye said a woman had called her after she found a slip of paper in my billfold with Jaye's name and phone number on it. The woman had found the billfold on the floor of a taxi cab.
When I heard taxi cab, a light went on: I had taken a taxi home from the mall that morning. "Wait a minute," I told Jaye, "let me check my purse." Sure enough, the billfold was missing. It must have fallen to the floor after I paid the driver and was gathering my packages.
Jaye gave me the woman's phone number; I called and thanked her profusely. She gave me her address, and I asked my daughter to pick up the billfold on her way home from work. I told her to give the woman a reward and to thank her again. The woman protested when my daughter offered the reward. My daughter said she had to insist she take the money. "You deserve to be rewarded for such honesty," she told my benefactor.
My second experience was also a matter of luck.
After spending some time at a downtown coffeehouse one morning, I decided I needed to stretch my legs and go for a walk. I had consumed plenty of coffee, but I was a bit hungry. I gathered my books and writing paper and loaded them into my bag. I put on my sweater coat, but after a few steps in the sunshine, I realized the coat no longer was necessary. I took it off and stuffed it into my bag.
As I turned onto Beach Drive, I noticed many folks had taken the opportunity to sit at a sidewalk cafe and enjoy their lunch in the pleasant surroundings and sunshine. On the sidewalk, a short distance away, I spied a couple of elderly ladies who were moving slowly toward me. They were engaged in a deep conversation. As they approached, I noticed one of them was so engrossed that she was unaware of her footing.
Suddenly, she stumbled over a little rise in the pavement and began to pitch forward.
Quickly, I took a few steps forward, yanked my bag off my arm and threw it on the sidewalk in front of her - just as she fell face down. Amazingly, her face landed on my big, soft bag. Her glasses were askew, but still intact on her wide-eyed, stunned face.
The people dining at nearby tables who witnessed the tableau stood in dismay when she fell. When they realized she was unhurt, they clapped and sat down again. One enthusiastic gentleman raised his wine glass and shouted, "Cheers."
Aside from being embarrassed, she was unharmed. She smiled sheepishly. Her friend turned to me and shook her head in awe at what had happened. Quietly, she asked me, "Whatever prompted you to do that? Without your bag she would have hit that sidewalk with her face and those glasses."
I smiled. "I guess it was just instinct," I told her. "I happened to be there at the right time."
Perhaps it was my turn to apply the Golden Rule. Or as the Indian humanitarian Paramahansa Yogananda says, "An Almighty power has linked us all together. Whenever you help others you are helping yourselves."
- LaVerne Hammond, who divides her time between Wisconsin and Florida, is an octogenarian at work on her memoirs. Write her in care of Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.
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