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Humanity is alive and well.

There are moments when you can believe that humanity is alive and well.

Maybe you have experienced that feeling, when the carefree progression of your life becomes threatened by a creeping sense of panic?

After putting my jacket in a locker with my friends’ backpack and hat, I reached into my trouser pocket for the re-assuring touch of my keys and didn’t find them there. I patted down all of my pockets. No keys. I reached again into the pocket where I always keep my keys, and still didn’t find them there. I went back to the locker, unlocked it and went through all the pockets in my jacket. Nothing. I thought, “This can’t be happening.“ Then I started to think about where I might have dropped them. I went back to the ticket counter, where I had taken my ID out of that pocket. They sent me to lost and found. No one had turned in any keys. I went out of the museum after explaining to the guards that I needed to find my keys and that I would be back soon. I went out to where I had waited for my friends in front of the entrance before they had arrived and looked all over the concrete surface, still no keys.

Then I re-traced my steps back to my apartment. I rang my neighbor’s doorbell to have her let me into the building and went back to my apartment on the assumption that, after locking the door, my hand must have missed my pocket, while trying to put away my keys. But there were no keys on the ground.

I then seriously considered going to the trouble and expense of calling a key service in order to get into my apartment. But before I did that, I thought that I should once more go back to where I might have lost them outside the museum entrance.

I looked at the ground all along the way on the far-out assumption that while I was walking I could have lost my keys and that they could still be on the ground without having been picked by a passerby and handed over to the nearest store owner.

Shortly before I got back to the museum, I saw the museum guard, to whom I had spoken earlier, waving his arm in my direction. When I got up close I could see that he had my keys in his hand! He joyfully explained that an elderly man had found them on the ground and had turned them over to the him while he was standing outside the museum entrance.

In that moment, I could believe that fate was looking out for me, that people do care about each other and that this was my lucky day.

How easy would it have been for that elderly man to take my keys home with him, put them in a drawer and forget about them? What sense of decency, pity, or responsibility motivated him to try to help me; someone whom he had never seen before? How did that vision of misery, symbolised by those orphaned keys, resonate in his existence?

I will be eternally grateful to that man. I would very much like to give him something or say something to him to express my gratitude for his selfless expression of humanity. But it seems that you can’t pay back kindness. It seems that the only thing you can do, is to pass that kindness onto someone else. I hope then that I, in a similar situation, will be willing to help a stranger in the same way that he helped me.


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