I almost didn't answer the phone. It was knocking on 4:00 on the Friday afternoon of a brutal week, and I could've been forgiven for letting voice-mail pick up, finishing the work at hand, and heading home for the long weekend. But, oh shoot, what the heck?
The voice on the other end of the line was one of my favorite people, Patti Joy, who had a request. Or rather, her grandson had a request. Seems she'd had brought him a model of a yellow taxi when she'd visited New York City some months ago, and now the taxi was missing. Could a replacement be found?
Excitedly, young Austin got on the phone and described the toy: the wheels move and the doors open and close. Could I get him another one? Could I get it today? Tomorrow? His voice belied his utter love for his little missing car and his belief that I could - hey, Presto! - magically transport the toy, ubiquitous in any NYC souvenier shop, to him instantly.
Well, yes, I believe I know just the place to get another one, said I, though I tried to explain that the taxi wouldn't show up on his doorstep for a few days.
He was just beside himself with glee. And his glee was contagious. Ever try to stay sad or depressed or anxious when talking to a thoroughly and happily excited child? Pert' near impossible.
The lowness and tiredness I felt before reaching for that phone had me almost immobilized. A work week that started with in-house training days, then tragically interrupted by the earthquake in Haiti - concern over colleagues and friends as well as brothers and sisters we don't even know, scrambling to help with communicating news and relief efforts, correcting a few technical difficulties - well, it just had me beat down. All I wanted was to get home and pull the covers over my head for three days.
Ah, but young Austin changed that for me. I had a mission! Something easy and enjoyable that would completely delight a little kid.
My prayers and donations are all I can do for the people of Haiti right now, and it doesn't seem like much. But I can get on the #6 subway, head toward Midtown Manhattan, and buy a little yellow taxi at a souvenier store. And for now, that's enough. Enough to bring a little joy to a child in Sewanee, Tennessee, and to a grown-up in New York City.
Glad I answered the phone!