It’s a true story I recently dug up in my archive, about one of my co-workers from back when I worked at Odin Books, Amanda. She’s what you call, in technical terms, a sweetheart. Always a smile on her face, always cheerful, and not in that workplace kind of way. She’s authentic.
One day, she was late for work. About fifteen minutes late. Now, it was no big deal for me—it was a slow morning and not everyone lives next door to where they work – stuff happens. Flat tire, bus delays, anything could have slowed her down. But I figured I’d have a bit of fun with her when she arrived.
The rear door alarm beeped as she came in, and I got ready. She walked in and I flipped out: “What the hell was keeping you? You’re fifteen frickin minutes late!” I was going to go on, getting more and more ludicrous until it was clear I was joking, but I stopped.
Amanda was on the verge of tears. She was also holding a box. Inside the box was an injured bird.
(this is not the actual bird, but you get the idea)
On her way to work, she came across a pigeon hit by a car. Its wing was broken, but it was still alive—though in shock. As soon as she knew it was still alive, she stopped. She went to the nearby gas station and asked for a box, then biked the rest of the way to work with the pigeon in the box on the handlebars.
I rightly felt like a heel. My “comic” timing couldn’t have been worse, but it did remind me that Amanda has one of the biggest hearts around. She’s the sort who will go out of her way to engage with a customer who might have a problem. She not only studies psychology in university as an adult student, but takes the time to volunteer at an animal shelter.
Most importantly, unlike some people I’ve met who will melt at the site of a kitten but would run over a “pest” animal like a pigeon, she’d do this for any animal. Then there are those who will help a wounded animal but step over a person in need. Amanda would help anyone, and to me that makes all the difference.
I helped Amanda keep the pigeon calm and warm. We put the closed box in a darkened change room, lifted off the ground so the concrete wouldn’t chill the poor thing and put a hot pot of water next to it to warm the air, while Amanda found an organization that could take care of it. A few hours later, a volunteer came by and took Frankle away (naturally Amanda gave him a name)—either to be put fixed up or put down. I’d rather not know which, but the way I see it animal doctors need to practice somewhere and it can’t always be on pets.
I’m somewhat cynical when it comes to humanity. I recognize that, sadly, our negative traits are very important. War is responsible for advancing our technology more than any other single factor. It’s responsible for getting us where we are.
But people like Amanda remind me that it’s people like her that make us WHO we are. Because without compassion, we wouldn’t have a civilization to advance.