1987, after dark, Downtown Houston- My brother and I are circling blocks looking for free parking. We had no luck with free parking and the concert was about to start so we resigned to paying the $15 bucks to park. We pull into the lot, my brother looks at the guy collecting money and tells him, “Man this is B.S. You don’t own this lot. You just showed up with a flashlight and a sign”. The dude says “Yep. Come on in. You get to park for free.” I am not sure how my brother figured out the scam but big brothers are good at that sort of thing.
2016, after work, near Reliant Center, tires – It’s been a long day at work and I am stuck in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo traffic. I am not going to the rodeo but I have to navigate the traffic to get home. I am zigg zagging through the back streets trying to avoid the worst of the traffic. There really is no good route. I resigned myself to the long line of traffic leading to loop 610 where I am certain I will eventually hit highway speeds. The highway speeds never happened but something interesting did happen while I was sitting in the line of traffic. I was surrounded by surface lots taking advantage of rodeo goers by charging them $35 for a parking spot. I noticed there were several cars parked on the side of the road but didn’t think much about them. As I slowly moved towards the loop I saw this old guy with one leg, sitting in a wheelchair holding a cardboard sign. Now anyone from Houston will tell you this is a common sight at busy intersections throughout the city. I almost didn’t give him a second look but sometimes the cardboard signs can be entertaining so I took a closer look.
2016, sitting in traffic, near Reliant Center, curious- Our one-legged sign holder turns my way and I get a good look at the sign. It reads “Parking on the side of the road is free!!” This totally caught me by surprise. I was expecting “Homeless Vet”, or “Will work for food” or the ever entertaining “Why lie. Need money for beer”, but this was totally different. I rolled down my window and asked the gentleman why he is holding that sign. He tells me, “Man, people around here are charging crazy prices to park. They are ripping people off, man!” I literally could not believe what I was seeing. That was the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. I had no intention of parking but I felt the guy earned his pay for the day so I handed him a $20 dollar bill and carried on with a smile on my face.
2016, siting on my bed, at home, blogging, fascinated- I can’t help but think about my experience with the one-legged Good Samaritan. Here is a guy who clearly was challenged physically and appeared to have other challenges that prevented him from helping himself but, somehow, for some reason, he found a way to help others. Was he doing his good deed in hopes of a tip? Maybe. Did he make more money than the guy back in 1987 who was ripping people off? Who knows. I hope he did. Either way he took the high road and that is something we can use more of.