If you read the Democrat-Herald and/or our website — and God bless you if you do — you are possibly familiar with the story of Easy, a south Albany woman’s lost and now found cat.
I’ll spare you all of the details of the story, but one of the better ones in my estimation is that the cat was found by one of my co-workers, Dennis Rivera of our circulation department.
I don’t know Dennis well, but he’s always seemed like a good guy, and not just because he rides a motorcycle (a red Ducati, incidentally). My good feeling about him was confirmed when I read in the story that he declined to accept the cash reward being offered for Easy’s return.
Turning down money in that — and a number of other instances — is quite simply the right thing to do if you’re any kind of a decent person. I even put it this way to news editor Kim Jackson and sports editor Les Gehrett, who were with me in the newsroom the night I realized our fellow employee had been the one to reunite the pet and its owner:
“Who would do a good deed and then want to be paid for it? Who would possibly want money just for doing something nice?”
They agreed with me that if you don’t decline the money, you’ve basically just undone any goodwill/positive karma you may have created.
Dennis happened to walk by my desk on his way out the door Thursday evening, and I told him nice job for what he had done regarding that cat, and the reward. He reacted like a good guy would have — that is, by indicating there was no way he wanted any money just for helping someone out.
I always figure that, despite the jerks everyone encounters at some point, most people are basically decent and honest — far from all people, of course, but a solid majority. Maybe I’m wrong though, based on certain reactions I’ve gotten over the years.
For example, probably at least a half-dozen times I have picked up a wallet or purse someone has left sitting around somewhere — most recently about a year ago at Sahalie Falls, where a woman had left her handbag at the observation area before starting down a trail — and gotten the item back to its owner.
The woman at Sahalie Falls reacted pretty much like the others did, and I suppose how I would react if I were in that situation: With extreme happiness and gratitude laced with a certain measure of disbelief.
It’s kind of sad, if you think about it, that good deeds and honesty are rare enough to be surprising.
Getting back to lost animals before we close:
Like a lot of folks, many times I have seen lost-pet fliers stapled to bulletin boards, telephone poles and the like. While I wish for no one’s pet to ever go missing — that has happened to me a few times and it’s gut-wrenchingly unsettling — I would love before I depart this earth to be able to do as Dennis did, to bring a beloved animal and its owner back together. I can think of very few things that would give me as much or more satisfaction, and to those who’ve helped me track down my own lost pets, thank you again.