Someone cut off my Daughter No. 3 the other day as she was motoring into the line to get a cup of coffee at a local drive-up window.
That daughter is not the type to let something like that faze her, even absent all the attention given to the possible horrors of road rage that has been forced on us in recent days.
She was surprised, however, when she went to pay for her order. The drive-up clerk told her the lady in front had paid for her coffee as a way of saying sorry for cutting her off.
A time to breathe. A small act of kindness. Everyone better for the wear.
That’s the way it should be.
I bring this up because today is New Year’s Day, a time to think positive thoughts. A time to hope for better in the coming year. And this little story, like a good cup of coffee, warmed me up inside.
New Year’s Day is also a time for looking back. So you’ll see a lot of stuff in newspapers recollecting the biggest events of the old year. Unfortunately, the most memorable stuff is usually tragic, criminal or a display of some negative aspect of human nature.
And 2015 wasn’t exactly a banner year for Homo sapiens. In fact, in her opinion column published in last Saturday’s Journal, national television personality and columnist Diane Dimond – an Albuquerque native, now of New York – called 2015 an Annus horribilis, or horrible year.
As a newspaper editor, it’s likely that I read about a lot more bad stuff than most folks. But instead of dwelling on that in this column, I decided to cobble together some small, positive happenings that appeared in the Journal over 2015 – stuff not likely to make the big lists, but still events that stuck in my mind and that might illustrate some of humanity’s better attributes.
For no reason in particular, I’ll start with a story involving Canis familiaris. He’s man’s best friend, after all.
You might remember the story last fall about Rex, a working dog who served with the military before working with the Albuquerque Police Department for several years.
When his APD handler, Scott Weimerskirch, retired, he was unable to keep Rex because he had a young child. And for a while, the 9-year-old Malinois was stuck at the city’s Animal Welfare Department, where some feared he might be put down.
But in October, he was rescued by the Warrior Dog Foundation of Cooper, Texas.
A recent post on the foundation’s Facebook page includes a picture of Rex lounging with a tennis ball on some grass near a lake. The accompanying caption says: “Look at K9 Rex! He went from facing the possibility of euthanasia, to enjoying retirement. As you can see, he’s loving his new home! Thank you, Mark, for adopting and giving K9 Rex a loving home!”
Go to warriordogfoundation.org if you’d like more information about the organization.
About 6,500 athletes from 165 nations competed in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles last summer, and four of them were from Albuquerque.
And they made New Mexico proud.
Rhythmic gymnasts Rebecca Amador, 19, won two gold medals and a bronze, and Jeannie Garriss, 29, won three gold medals (including for all-around), a bronze and silver. In golf, Matthew Scates, 40, and his unified teammate (that is, a partner competitor who doesn’t have a disability) Todd Phillips, took bronze in team play.
“If ever you get the chance to participate in a World Games, never turn down the chance. It will change you forever,” Phillips said.
He’s right, but you don’t need to wait for the World Games. Special Olympics of New Mexico provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for about 3,100 youths and adults with intellectual disabilities – and their unified partners – in several events.
Congratulations to Amador, Garriss, Scates and Phillips – and the rest of the New Mexico athletes who give it their all. And thanks to the coaches, organizers and sponsors who make it happen. Go to sonm.org for more information.
On Oct. 17, Albuquerque found out what 200 really nice people can do in just a day: They assembled a complete playground for children who can really use it.
In association with the nonprofits KaBOOM! and NewLife Homes, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico donated almost $90,000 and a lot of volunteer help to put up a really nice playground at the Sundowner on Central near San Pedro.
Longtime Albuquerqueans remember the Sundowner as a landmark Route 66 motel and popular nightclub. After seeing better days, it closed in 2009. In 2013, it was transformed by the city and NewLife Homes into 71 apartments for veterans, individuals with disabilities, formerly homeless people and others.
But all this time, something was lacking. The kids had no place to play. Now they do, thanks to a lot of giving Albuquerque residents. The volunteers, who included some appreciative Sundowner residents, did it in about six hours.
See? And these are just a few of the nicer stories from the year. Don’t forget: This year you have an extra day to dwell on the negative or celebrate the positive.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to editorial page editor Dan Herrera at 823-3810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.