Shuu rin – Autumn Rain (A Haibun for dVerse)

Driving to work in the heavy autumn rains, it felt like the sun had escaped our view forever. Where the sun shines 330 days a year, when the clouds come and darken our world, we freak out a bit and depression and edginess spreads over the town like the plague. Nonetheless, after a soggy, cool weekend, I had dropped my boys off at school and was headed to work at the Dermatology Clinic at the Medical School. I got halfway there, talking and begging my old white Audi, Blanche, to hang in there until I made it to work. Suddenly she sputtered and coughed. I patted the dashboard lovingly, speaking gently and encouragingly to her. That’s when all the lights flashed on my dashboard and I felt Blanche die and start floating in the rushing river of water that Brownfield highway had somehow become. Yikes! I was really floating! Just like those people on the news in other places! I willed Blanche to coast right, twisting her steering wheel hard to the right, hoping it would help. I felt her tires hit pavement and steered even harder. She stopped, right in the middle of the busiest traffic in town. I was stuck in the middle lane of a three lane highway and cars were whizzing by like SST’s. What was I going to do? Suddenly a huge truck pulled up and stopped in front of me while simultaneously its emergency flashers started blinking. A huge, young cowboy climbed out of the truck and made his way back to me. I opened my door to talk to him. “Ma’am, has she died completely? I’ll pull her over to the side if you’d like me to do so. My truck can take her easily.” As I looked into the man’s deep blue eyes, I had an inappropriate thought that he could take me easily too. I didn’t say that out loud, though, thank goodness! I didn’t want to be a stereotypical divorcee, embarrassingly lonely and obvious. “If you could do that, I’d really appreciate it! I’m afraid I’m going to cause a stack up if I don’t pull her over. What do I need to do?” “Not a thing! Just sit tight and I’ll hook her up! Then when I signal, put her in neutral and guide her to the parking lot over there.” Sitting in the car and being pulled over to the side, I had to smile. West Texans might be a lot of things, but unhelpful they were not. As my car coasted into the parking lot and I put her in park, the young man jumped out of his truck and came back, leaned in over the open door. “Do you need a ride to work? I’m headed over to the main campus.” My day, even in the heavy fall rain, suddenly had sunlight.

Heavy, bruising rain,
Ice cold and relentlessly dull,
Making new rivers.

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
6/21/16

The Haibun prompt from dVerse Poets (https://dversepoets.com) was to use one of the Japanese words for rain as the title and to describe the type of rain being written about. A Haibun consists of a non-fiction paragraph followed by a haiku to summarize and deconstruct the main point of the prose paragraph. This is my offering today as a memory came to me of a heavy rainy day when a kind stranger towed my car to the side of the road.

https://dversepoets.com/2016/06/20/haibun-monday-50-shades-of-rain/

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As many of you know, I’ve traveled a lot this summer. My husband and I traveled to Ireland, Spain, England, and spent one day in France. Then last week I traveled to the Chicago area to spend time with my baby grandson, daughter-in-law and son.

I’ve said all my life that I truly believe there are more kind and good people in the world than there are mean and evil people, but kindness and goodness doesn’t get much press because it’s not as sensational. Frankly, I think kindness and goodness is so “common” that it’s not considered news.

I know I don’t have any scientific data to back up my claims that there are more kind and good people in the world than mean and evil people, but I do have my own experiences and I’m happy to report that everywhere I’ve been and of everyone I’ve met, kindness and goodness wins! I can honestly only think of two people this entire summer of traveling that were short-tempered, grumpy and a little scary. This is out of hundreds, if not thousands, of other people I was around or met. For those of you who like scientific data, let’s just say I made contact with 100 people directly over the course of the summer and only 2 of those 100 were jerks. That’s 2% of the population! I actually met or was surrounded by thousands of people and still only two people were not nice. Even those two people who weren’t nice weren’t being ugly to me, but to other people.

Let that sink in a minute. Only two people out of thousands in several countries in the world were unkind and rude. For all I know those two people might have been having exceptionally bad days or some sort of personal crisis going on that caused them to be that way on that day.

On the other hand, I can’t tell you how many people held doors for me, spoke pleasantly, cooperated and played well with others in group situations, and in general were just great people! For heavens sake, in Dublin, I took myself out of the Friday 5:00 PM crush of people on the street for a breather and a complete stranger walked over to make sure I was ok and not hurt or something! He was genuinely concerned about me!

In Spain when we thought we had lost our luggage, we had no less than three people help us by translating for us, looking up our information, and taking us through a back door, bypassing security, to pick up our luggage. The clerk was nice, a young woman who could speak three or four languages was nice and another guy was patient by letting us go ahead of him in line. I would even add that the language lady spent at least 20 minutes of her own personal time to assist us! She didn’t work for the airlines. She had nothing to gain by taking the time to help us. She just did it and we were most appreciative!

In London, the man at the flat management office went so far and above the call of common courtesy. He was wonderful and so helpful to the two fish out of water from Colorado. He was originally from eastern Europe and had worked hard to get to his position of management, but didn’t let it keep him from being patient and kind.

I felt like I made some real connections with complete strangers on the trip too and some of them have even become Facebook friends because we had a good time together and truly connected.

Do you know what most of these kind people spoke of when we visited together? Their families, friends, and other loved ones. Ok, there was the one taxi driver who regaled us with all the anecdotes about famous people he had met and ferried around, but in the end he spoke about his wife of many years whom he obviously loved more than anyone else.

So, what’s my point besides the fact that I believe there are more kind and nice people in the world than mean and evil people? Well, it’s like this. If we just listen to the news, read the internet, watch movies, or other media, it sounds like the world is going to hell in a handbasket and it’s just a matter of time until we all blow ourselves up. There’s this sense of “protect yourself because everyone else is out to get you.” From what I’ve seen in the world, that’s just not true. There are people out there who are mean and vengeful and terrorist in nature. I know that. I’m not totally naive regarding that fact. However, I believe there are so many more good people in the world who come together and help one another who save the day in the end. I find great hope and comfort in that. I hope you will too. Be kind. Be loving. Quit arguing over little things that don’t matter. Quit arguing and being hateful on social media over big things that do matter. You’re not going to change someone’s mind by being harsh. Be nice to someone, though, listen respectfully, and respond in kind, and maybe you’ll both change your minds a little bit. Remember, we’re all in this world together and if we work together, kindly and generously, we’ll all be much better off. I believe in the world’s overall kindness. Some may think I’m crazy, but just imagine the amazing possibilities if I’m right…

Peace and love, always,

Elaine