'Do gooders' are everywhere
The Spirit of Tehachapi
Sitting around with family a few weeks ago, we began sharing stories, as families do, laughing at inside jokes which are funny only to those related, and just generally having a good time. By the way, at that family gathering we discovered we had present, four generations of Tehachapi High School graduates incorporating years, 1946 to coming 2017. Not bad!
One of the little “do gooder” stories that popped up that afternoon took place in McDonald’s twin drive-in lines. I decided I needed a cup of coffee so I pulled up to the Golden Arches’ lanes. There was a van in the middle of the entrance to both lanes which prevented me from entering either. That was o.k. I knew he was waiting for the first vacancy. Must have been in a hurry. It certainly did not create a crisis on my part. Then the lanes cleared but he was looking down and didn’t notice. I thought, “I’ll just tap my horn so he’ll look up.” Wrong. I tapped my horn and instead of a cute little short “beep” it turned out to be a long “BEEEEEP!” I didn’t mean it and it was so embarrassing! Well, it got his attention and he moved on. We both gave our orders and it was time to proceed to the cashier. He caught my eye and I smiled and waved him ahead as it was his turn. The smile was the least I could do after honking so loudly. He also smiled and moved ahead and when I came to pay for my coffee the person taking the money said the man in the van, ahead of me, had paid for me. Now, that was a kind deed, especially after my loud beep! I wanted to “beep” him a thank you but I was afraid .
Moving on to the approaching Christmas time where good deeds seem to abound . Many years ago, about 1978, I was scheduled to sing at a funeral. Not an unusual thing for me to do. The family called the evening before the service and wanted a Spanish hymn. I had never sung it. It was about nine in the evening and the funeral was the next day. It is not unheard of to get last minute requests. Sometimes it also takes a little “last minute” doing on the singer’s and accompanist’s part. I called a friend of mine, Virginia Sanchez, born here, raised here and of Spanish origin. That sweet friend sang that song to me over the phone until I had the accent right. The notes I could read but my “gringo” accent had to be honed down a bit. She’s in Heaven now but that good deed lingers on in my memory of her.
One day, as my grandson, Dakota, who is a semi-professional bike racer, had a crash, which is what they call an accident in bike language. He was in Sacramento. This involved broken ribs, color bone and scapula. Upon being released from the hospital his father, my son, Jim, was prepared to drive the three hundred or more miles to Sacramento to bring him home all in one day. It would be a long trip to make not saying how the jolting of the car for that many miles would be on broken bones. Local man, Clyde Davis, who is Chaplain at CCI¸spoke up and said, “I’ll fly up and get him for you,” which is what he did Furthermore, he drove Dakota from the Tehachapi Air port to his front door in Golden Hills. Big time, do gooder! Dakota is all healed and back to racing bikes again.
One December day about three years ago, I was in line in Save Mart. The lines were long for Christmas was at hand and people were in a hurry to get their Yule Tide plans completed. We were in the Express Line and I was behind just one person. The lady behind me called loudly to the person checking out, “You’re on the Express Line and you have more than sixteen items!” Sure enough the lady checking out had many items. She turned to the woman and in an equally loud voice, said, “SO?” I did not do a good deed but I‘m glad I was between the two ladies with the shattered nerves. I might have prevented a fist fight though!
Other times a candid statement can do wonders. Joan Johnson told me this story some years ago. The owner of Monolith Cement Company, Mr. Coy Burnett, told this story on himself. On one of his trips from the Los Angeles Main Office he stopped at one of the kilns being repaired by an electrician named Scotty. He stood watching the man doing the job and kept getting closer to view the process. Finally, the workman said, “Would you get out of the way so I can get this job done?”
Mr. Burnett said, “Do you know who I am?”
“No,” answered Scotty.
“Well, my name is Burnett. I own this plant.”
Answering right back the repairman said, “Well, my name is Scotty and I’d be happy if you’d get out of the way so I can get this job done!” After that, Mr. Burnett, on his trips to Tehachapi, always looked up Scotty to chat for a few minutes.
Children were a very important part of this man’s life. From the early thirties until World War II began in 1941, every child of a Monolith employee from 7 to 18 was eligible for a trip to Catalina Island at the company’s expense., Usually the count was 180 to 200 children going. Alas, my Dad did not work at Monolith but my friends appreciated Mr. Burnett’s good deed.
And lastly, a bit of “cure all” advice to dispel the Christmas jitters that you may have still lurking about. Each Christmas Eve I try to attend the Children’s Mass at my Church. Each Church in town will have the same kind of celebration so go to the one that is yours, The Children’s Choir will be singing in earnest voices and also, while Father reads the Christmas Gospel, the children act it out in costume. If that doesn’t send you home with joy in your heart nothing will for it’s the best Do Gooder medicine there is. Merry Christmas!