Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Thousand to One

A thousand to one. That's my ratio for this week of encounters with jerks versus good people. Or maybe I have stated that backwards, because it is the good people who came out on top. They were the "thousand", while there was only one real jerk.

Let me explain. I am a lady of a certain age, complete with gray hair. I am not accustomed to being on the receiving end of aggressive behavior. Most people don't yell at grandmother types. They just don't. But earlier this week, a neighbor up the road was verbally aggressive and it made my adrenaline bubble and surge for over an hour. During this period of high adrenaline, I was feeling decidedly un-Christian toward him and began to understand why people sometimes long to move into the Canadian north woods, far from their fellow man.

Although I eventually simmered down, I was a little ashamed of how long it took me to do so. Why did I let one person's bad behavior live in my head that long?  

But any lingering feelings of ill will toward others have been wiped clean by later events this week. On Thursday, I attended a volunteer appreciation reception put on by CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park, in southern Saratoga County. When I opened the program, I read that in the past year, 482 fellow CAPTAIN volunteers had provided over 19,000 hours of service to families and children in need in our communities. That's a lot of caring and loving from a lot of people. Already, the ratio of good people to jerks I was encountering this week was tipping heavily toward the good.

Then, this Saturday morning, quite early, I joined some of my fellow Malta Sunrise Rotarians at the Saratoga National Cemetery. We were there to help place flags on the graves of veterans, to honor them on Memorial Day.  

We weren't alone. Hundreds of people came, at 7:30 AM, on a Saturday morning of a holiday weekend. Hundreds. 

People came alone, in groups, with service clubs, with families. They brought young children. None misbehaved. No one did anything inappropriate for the place or occasion. There was not a single jerk in attendance. 

As with many an effort that uses volunteers, there was a little confusion at first. But people rallied, helped each other, showed what to do and how to do it, and the job got done. Before the morning was over, every single veteran's grave (18,000 of them) had been visited, a flag placed, their names read aloud, and each deceased serviceman and each deceased servicewoman was saluted. 

This week has been a lesson to me. Yes, I had one unpleasant encounter with one man. But I also rubbed shoulders with at least a thousand volunteers this week, people who gave their time and their energy to do good in their community. And those are pretty good odds. 

Please note: Volunteers will also be needed at the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery on Tuesday, May 30th, to respectfully re-gather the flags that were placed and bundle them for storage. You can just show up there between 8:30 and 9:00 AM. Folks will be there to show you what to do. Find the cemetery at 200 Duell Road, Schuylerville, NY.  And if you spot a grandmotherly-looking woman wearing a Malta Sunrise Rotary Club shirt there, please say hello.

If you or your group would like to help with the Flag Project next year, please email:  They also accept donations for flags. 

If you would like to learn more about CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park, please check out their website, here: