Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Big blue elf

I've had some pretty neat experiences working second shift on Christmas over the years, but yesterday was the best ever. Here's what happened.

My wife and her coworkers at Chico's decided to forego their usual Christmas gift exchange at work, and to pool the money they would have spent on little gifts for one another. They asked me if I could help find a family who could use an unexpected gift. I've helped line such things up for other groups before, so of course I was happy to do so. I usually get a tip from the police department's Victim Witness Unit, but this time I had someone in mind already.

In the meantime, Capt. Dave Beggs received a call last week from a citizen with a similar request. Dave had me call him back, and it turned out to be a guy I know, Jim Otto. He and some friends were doing the same thing Tonja and her coworkers were doing. After their Christmas Eve get together, they dropped off an envelope to Assistant Chief Jim Peschong, who was working the evening shift. Jim sent me an email, and locked it up in my office.

All in all, I had $600 in Target and WalMart gift cards and postal money orders to deliver on behalf of these donors. I knew exactly who I wanted to help. It was a young family I had met along with Officer Cass Briggs, as I worked Veteran's Day on the Street. They are living in some of the poorest housing in town, but obviously were trying to make a good life. Someone had stolen their bicycle, and as I took the report, I reflected on the challenges they face. They were the ideal choice, I thought, to receive this random act of kindness.

I checked by their apartment a few times after the 2:30 p.m. briefing for second shift, but I couldn't find them at home. I was getting a little worried when I found the lights burning just after 8:00 p.m.. I suspect they were a little surprised to find the police chief at the door, but I was warmly greeted, and explained my purpose. When I told them how much money I had for them, I think they were momentarily dumbfounded. I soon found myself being hugged by the entire family. For Jaime, Ana, and the children, this would be a major event. It would be the equivalent of somebody knocking on my door and handing me around three grand. Cass Briggs said it well: "That will make a huge difference for that family."

My work done, I sprang to my Tahoe and beat feet. But I had to explain, ere I drove out of sight, that I was just the heavily-armed and highly-paid delivery man.

Wow, did I have a great Christmas!


Anonymous said...

It is a great feeling to give to those with less. I gave my former wife a hundred dollar bill. She had a look on her face that you would see on some person who just got the correct order at mickeydonalds. And the guy at the car wash that I tipped $8.00 did a dance I will never forget. This should be the way life is year around.

Anonymous said...

That's what bums me out about Christmas. All of the other months of the year the poor and homeless are basically forgotten about.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the poor and homeless are forgotten the rest of the year. There are lots of people and agencies that think of them every day of the year.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe the press wasn't there when you were knocking.

Anonymous said...

I love the Heavily-armed and highly-paid comment. I just think thats hilarious. By the way that was a great thing your wife and her coworkers and that other citizen did. I wish more people could do that!!!

Anonymous said...

It's not hard to feel good about giving someone elses money away. Especially when you get paid (well)to do so. I'm sure later that night you all sat around the fire, drank your spiked egg nogg, and told heart warming tales how you think of others on this one day a year. Already have your wings and halo picked out? Or would you settle for sainthood?