I like to think that the world is filled with two kinds of people: horrible people and terrible people. Lately, I’ve been terribly disillusioned upon discovering that there are also decent, generous, and gracious people in the world, and I don’t know what to do with this revelation.
I am accustomed to thinking that this is a world dominated by oppressive employers, corrupt politicians, exploitative businesses and a bigoted populace, a world where lying is acceptable, science is denied, and the environment is willfully destroyed.
And then my granddaughter’s little red tricycle disappeared.
She left it in front of the house at noon on Mother’s Day. When we went out after lunch looking forward to a trike ride to visit the six cows in the pasture at the end of East Prospect Street, the bike was gone.
Who would steal a little red tricycle? Yes, it could have been an error if the bike had been left on the curb with a sign that said, “Free, Take me.” But the bike was in the middle of the lawn. How depraved could anyone be? Only the lowest of lowlifes would do something this despicable, someone lower than whale excrement and that sinks to the bottom of the deepest depths of the ocean. (That was a popular Army epithet years ago.) I’d make comparisons to snakes, but I really like snakes. Stealing candy from a baby took on new meaning.
This red Radioflyer tricycle even had a heart-warming family history. It was a gift to my grandchildren from my nephew. His three daughters had done some hard pedaling on the machine before they outgrew it and passed it on, with affection, to their little cousins.
Upon discovering that the bike was missing, I posted the following note on the Hopewell community website, “Someone ‘mistakenly’ removed a little red tricycle from in front of our house in The Boro. Our 2 ½ year-old grand daughter would like it back. On Mother’s Day, no less?”
That’s what I wrote. What I really meant was a mostly unprintable denunciation (at least for a family publication) on the ancestry and personal proclivities of whomever would steal a tricycle from a small child. My sentiments included deep-felt wishes for the ghastliest of fates to descend upon the thief.
Surprisingly, at least to me, the post evoked a series of uplifting (and sometimes inscrutable) responses from my Hopewell neighbors. Beyond all expectations, two people, including a four year old, offered their outgrown trikes. I was totally unprepared for such beneficence which left me genuinely flabbergasted and sorely undermined my profound lack of faith in humanity.
Where was the cynicism? Where was the, “Tough luck, buddy. We live in a cold cruel world. Accept it.”
Where was the nyah, nyah, taunting, “That’s what you get for not attaching a Kryptonite lock to the trike, jerk.”
Where was the vindictive japing, “That’s the punishment you get for mocking the saint in the White House.”
Instead, this impressive thread of heartfelt support leapt out summed up by the final poster who wrote, “It’s been a pleasure to read through this thread – Kudos to you and your daughter [name of trike donor]!! With so much negative news lately, it was very satisfying to see such goodwill towards others. Thank you all!”
At this dire moment when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding hard (War, Famine, Pestilence, and Trump), it’s comforting to know that there is kindness, magnanimity, of spirit and genuine warmth in the world embodied in people who will enthusiastically and selflessly come to the aid of a little girl whose tricycle was ripped-off.
In the Manichean view, the universe is in a perpetual state of balance between good and evil. We are currently in a period where that balance is particularly precarious.
Seeking comfort? You should see the speed and elation with which my granddaughter pedals down the sidewalk on her new wheels. Whoosh!
Robin Schore is a resident of Hopewell Borough.