At almost every rally, there will usually be someone who comes looking for work. Sometimes we hire them for a couple hours and sometimes we don't. We pretty much base it on our gut feeling.
We've been lucky where we've met more winners than losers.
Michael was one of the winners.
Actually, we didn't hire Michael. He just stopped by and hung around and watched us, and then started anticipating what we needed and helping out by handing us something, or picking something off the ground for us.
While it's not apparent from the photo, Michael is physically and emotionally handicapped. He's deaf, or mostly deaf and wears a hearing aid. If I had to guess, I'd say he has the emotional maturity of a 10 or 12-year-old.
It was hard to understand Michael when he talked, but, for the most part, he understood us and after 20 or 30 minutes, Sylvia and I made the decision we'd let Michael help where he could and watch out so he didn't hurt himself.
We didn't let him climb the ladder to help take down the awning, but we both smiled when he clapped and said "wow" when we unzipped it and 40 feet of canvas gracefully tumbled to the ground.
His childlike enthusiasm and willingness to help (remember we hadn't offered him a job nor mentioned payment) reminded us that despite the nastiness of our political climate today, there are people who have very little but are still happy just to be alive.
A couple of hours later, we finished loading and said goodbye to Michael. After posing for this photograph, Sylvia pressed some $5 bills into his hand and said, "Now Michael, put this money in your pocket and don't show it around. Go get some lunch or buy yourself something nice."
He counted it, and again said, "wow" before dutifully hiding it away in his shorts.
It's easy to get cynical when you deal with the public day in and day out. It's easy to take for granted your blessings and advantages when you're struggling to pay bills or grow a business.
Without saying anything, Michael showed us that sometimes, kindness and childlike enthusiasm is the most endearing quality a person can possess. Without trying to, Michael brightened our day. Without trying to, Michael made us want to be better people.
Thank you, Michael.
(ignore the naked mannequin...Michael did.)