The Daily Post Prompt for today is the word TOURIST. Friends might have thought the first thing that would come to mind for me was our trip to the British Isles next year since I’ve been looking forward to it all my life. And we certainly WILL be tourists then. But what actually came to mind was the moment when I stopped being a tourist in life, in faith, and made the choice to become part of the society of human beings.
My family was driving through town on our way home from church. Sunday afternoon is REAL slow in Utah. They don’t actually roll the sidewalks back out till Monday morning. About the only thing that was open downtown was the movie theater. And as we were driving past Brandon noticed a man lying on the sidewalk in front of the ticket booth out front of the theater. He hollered at Drollery to stop the car, so we pulled off into a parking place to see what was going on.
There lay the man, not moving. And people were walking past him to get to the ticket booth. I was floored and disgusted. In the few minutes we sat there watching not one person stopped to see if he was ok. Finally I got out of the car and went to kneel by the guy to make sure he was at least breathing. He was, but was really disoriented. He couldn’t tell me his name. Still no one stopped to lend a hand. Drollery told Bran to stay in the car and went to find a pay phone. He called 911 (though it wasn’t known as that at the time) and they dispatched an ambulance to assist the man.
Turned out they were familiar with him. His name, they said, was Johnny. He made his home down along the tracks behind St. Anne’s Kitchen. It wasn’t the first time they’d transported him to the hospital.
The next day I went up to McKay-Dee Hospital to see if I could find out what happened to him. They had kept him for observation because he was diabetic. He had been in diabetic shock when they picked him up. They told me the room number and I stopped in to say hello. He was still pretty incoherent, but it gave me a great deal of peace to know he was going to be ok. This time…
What I came away from that experience with was a terrible disappointment in humanity that could see a man lying on a sidewalk in broad daylight — in the middle of the hottest summer months, I might add — barely breathing, and walk right past him. I was appalled. That was the day I stopped being a TOURIST in my world. I made a conscious decision, instead, to become one with the people no matter who they were.
Since then I’ve been fortunate to be involved in a lot of community projects. But my favorite thing I’ve done is tutor migrant workers’ kids as they moved in and out of the area following the crops and seasons. Oh my Lord! The stories you hear from these kids can scare the tar out of ya. They are precious. And they helped to change my attitude toward immigrants in this country.
DON’T SPEND YOUR LIFE BEING A TOURIST IN THIS WORLD. The time may come when you need a helping hand from someone, too. God forbid the only folks around are the ones wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts and carrying cameras.
GET INVOLVED!!! It’s what makes life worth living…