Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fireman Saves Our Vacation

**The following letter was sent to the fire chief of San Antonio.  We don't often acknowledge small acts of kindness, but in our case, a certain fireman in San Antonio made a huge difference at the end of our vacation.  It's a moment the girls and I will never forget.  I scanned the note left to us.  It'll make sense once you read the letter.


8 August 2012

Chief Hood,

We don’t always take the time to thank our heroes.  Often only great tragedies summon the courage and need to thank those who run towards danger to save those who run from it. 

Sometimes little acts of kindness make huge differences in the lives of others.  Our story is about how our vacation was saved.  It didn’t involve grave danger to our lives.  In fact, it was about a pile of plastic, glass and wires.  Amongst that finely tuned pile of replaceable items, however, was a priceless set of photographs. 

We had the opportunity for a vacation on the coast, visiting the beach at Padre Island and capping it off with a great two-day stay in San Antonio.  The vacation ended with a great lunch on the market on, Tuesday, August 7, and a stop was planned in San Marcos for a little back-to-school shopping.

In an instant of carelessness I went to the car for our checkbook, and somehow let our camera kit -- contained in a bag -- slip out and on the parking lot.  The boogie boards we used on the beach, which I kept fighting the entire trip to stay in car, where safe inside.  Somehow, though, I never saw the camera slip out.  I proceeded to the store and check out.  We headed back to the car.

As we loaded our bags with new purchases, I immediately noticed the camera bag was missing.  Panic rang through our bodies, and we literally yanked all our belongings onto the parking lot.  Tears began to flow down my wife and girls, and as much as I retraced our steps back in San Antonio (not even thinking it slipped out when I grabbed the check book), nothing but total defeat overwhelmed us.  We would only remember losing our camera, complete with some 400 pictures, on this great trip.

Cameras are replaceable.  Pictures? Priceless.  Our loss was most assuredly, some one else’s gain.

However, on this hot afternoon in San Marcos, and after my careless fumbling of boogie boards and checkbook, Eli was the man (we candidly call him fireman Eli at home now).  I’m still not sure if he saw it or his son, but divine intervention was meant to be.  The percentage of us ever seeing our camera again was so miniscule, except…

Eli placed it in his vehicle safely, and took the time to write a note on my windshield.

I’ll never forget the moment when all hope was lost, and I started to circle the car so the girls wouldn’t see how upset I was at myself.  I was sure I had left that camera in the last parking lot in San Antonio.  Then, I spotted a piece of paper on the windshield, which asked, “ If you have lost something, call this cell number and describe it.” 

Eli and his son came out.  They gave us the camera, and we gave them the most inadequate “thank you” probably in the history of thanking somebody.  At the moment we met them in that parking lot, we had a combination of emotional defeat and shock, that somebody would, not only return our camera, but also take the time to write a note and make sure we described it correctly, so they had the right owners.

Eli’s decision to rescue our camera saved our vacation.  There’s no doubt about it.  The trip back to Arlington and our home would have been very, very long and sad, had he not taken the time to do the right thing. 

It was a teaching moment of our kids, we have both agreed.  It was a moment in time, which reminded us of the goodness in people, in spite of all the bad we hear about.  Eli could have had no reason to do what he did, except that he did.  He brought his son with him to return our camera, so that he knows doing the right thing is the right thing. 

We will never forget that afternoon.

The City of San Antonio has a man of great character guarding its dangers.  I can’t express to you how much this small act of kindness meant to us.  Firemen were always my heroes as a kid.  They most certainly still are.