I was on my way to lunch with an editor yesterday. It was raining the way it does in spring: torrents followed by buckets, followed by mist. Rain, rinse, repeat. Sogginess all around.
In other words it was a wretched day to be out.
But it was a worse day to be in an ambulance.
Traffic was snarled. Tempers were flaring. The ambulance siren was LOUD. And it wasn't moving.
The ambulance was coming west on Fulton, about 200 feet before the intersection with Broadway which runs north/south. The cars ahead of the ambulance on Fulton couldn't pull to the side due to the construction. They couldn't pull ahead onto Broadway because traffic was moving at a good clip with the light in their favor.
A man just ahead of me on the sidewalk stepped out onto Broadway. He raised his arms in the universal message of STOP. He stopped all three lanes of traffic on Broadway, then turned his back and waved to the cars on Fulton. This time it was the universally recognized sign for "get your ass moving!"
And the Fulton street cars did, pulling aside in the space created at the intersection of Broadway and Fulton. The ambulance roared past. Without turning to anyone else on the street for any kind of acknowledgement, the man continued on his way across the street.
At that moment it was clear I'd seen an everyday hero. He stepped up and did what needed to be done. No one asked. No one thanked him. The ambulance patient will never know about this moment.
But it's this kind of small but epic moment of which lives of uncommon valour are made.
I thought of this today because a friend lost her father this week. He had lived a long, well-loved life. He'd been married for 59 years, raised four daughters, one of whom I know to be the kind of person you want with you in the life boat.
Her dad was not famous. He did not have an epic resume. But it was clear to me in the space between the lines of his obituary that he was an everyday hero.
Now more than ever I need to remember there are truly good people in this world.
Tell me about an everyday hero you've seen.