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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Unsung Heroes of 2016

On this last day of 2016, it has become abundantly clear that this year was, for too many citizens across the world, a troubling, tumultuous, and turbulent year. Even the mere utterance of the year evokes melancholy, an understandable reaction in light of nightmarish events like the unanticipated election of madman Donald Trump.

The president-elect has devoted much of his fear-mongering campaign to attacking people with identities different than his: blacks, the LGBT community and their allies, low-income Americans, and women, among others. In seemingly small but selfless ways, these individuals prove President-elect Trump's provocations wrong everyday. That was my experience in 2016 thanks to unsung heroes who, in myriad manners, put me at ease in tense, unfortunate moments that ultimately were resolved thanks to these individuals' dedication.

There was the Philly-hailing Greyhound bus driver who went above and beyond the call of duty in retrieving my phone from a vent I had clumsily allowed it to fall into while on the bus. During this bus trip, it, for some time, did not seem possible that my phone was retrievable as it had fallen into a place where bus passengers all failed to retrieve it despite their best efforts. To my amazement, I found out after the bus trip ended that the driver went out of her way to work with manufacturers, folks who make things work behind the scenes, to utilize unique tools to physically pry my phone out of there. I am immensely grateful for her as she had no obligation to assist me in this endeavor but the kindness of her heart was evident.

There was the Orlando area Best Buy GeekSquad employee who, during Thanksgiving week, worked tirelessly to repair my broken laptop. He offered his personal email address so we can check continually on the progress made and he worked to expedite the mission because he knew we would be leaving within days to go back home. Ultimately, he was able to salvage the data on the hard drive of my laptop despite potential hazards with the motherboard of my laptop. He was a lifesaver in the weeks before my final exams as I had crucial notes from my classes on my laptop. He was uncommonly patient and explained complicated matters in easily comprehensible language thus putting my mind at ease.

There was the Wilkes-Barre area Motorworld employee who just today, upon realizing that my car was fraught with potential issues that I did not realize, was able to provide service to my vehicle's troubles so swiftly that it is already ready for pickup. I am leaving shortly for a New Year's Eve celebration in Philadelphia so the time crunch was agonizing but her diligence was much appreciated. She did not have to be so understanding but for her unusually swift assistance, I am extremely thankful.

Beyond these exceptionally altruistic individuals, there are dozens of other stories of unsung heroes in my travels of 2016 -- people of all walks of life, colors, and creeds who revealed their basic decency in ways that Donald Trump will likely never understand. They uncovered their humanity in small acts of kindness that reflect their character. Often, their work goes unnoticed while their identities are attacked as ignoramuses choose to believe that they do not add any meaningful value to this world. Unlike President-elect Trump, these individuals don't seek glory or fame or riches; it is fathomable that that's why he will never fully understand these peoples' toils and triumphs. In unheralded yet individually impactful acts, these individuals' enduring empathy towards others proves Trump wrong everyday. As such, they are unsung heroes of 2016 who made this difficult year calmer and better.