Call it karma or the pay-it-forward effect, but an unlikely string of events has renewed my faith in humanity.
Last spring, mostly on a whim, I purchased two dozen Wyandotte chicks. I ensconced them in our chicken coop and managed to keep their presence a secret from my wife - that is, until the stupid roosters began to crow.
The chicks grew up and were given the run of our farmstead. This was fine with my wife until they opted to roost on her car. The next time she found chickens on her car, she said, the shotgun would be brought to bear. It wasn't clear whether the gun would be trained on the chickens or me.
So I began to thin the flock. Several of the roosters became guests of honor at dinner while others found a new home in our freezer.
Then the hens began to lay. This forestalled their appointments with the stew pot but created another problem regarding an excess of eggs.
We have a friend named Alvaro. He is an Extension specialist and is also the only guy I know who hails from Uruguay.
Alvaro is a wondrous problem solver. For instance, last winter I bumped into him at a home improvement center. We chatted and I asked him about an issue that had been bothering me.
"I'm reading Don Quixote," I said. "How in blazes do you pronounce the name of Don Quixote's horse?"
"Rocinante!" replied Alvaro in his sonorous Uruguayan accent, rolling the "r" as effortlessly as a beach ball on a windy day. For some reason, having that information greatly enhanced my reading of Don Quixote.
Several weeks ago I mentioned my egging problem to Alvaro. He recalled wistfully that his grandmother had kept Wyandottes when he was a kid and said that he wouldn't mind owning a hen or two. Because of Alvaro's help with my Rocinante problem, I was glad to make that happen.
During a recent chat with Alvaro, I asked how his poultry project was faring. He told me that his two hens had somehow gotten loose on their first day in their new digs. He searched for them in his grove but finally had to give up at nightfall, surmising that they would be coyote fodder by daybreak. To top things off, an early winter storm had rolled in.
That evening Alvaro's wife informed him of a bizarre development: a pair of hens were sitting on their front steps! He scooped up the wayward birds and reinstalled them in his barn. He then had to return to his house and, like me, fess up about keeping clandestine chickens.
I found this tale delightful. Not just the secret chickens part, but mainly because what was lost had been found and, against all odds, returned to its rightful owner.
Later that day I went to the farm supply store for chicken feed. Upon returning to my vehicle, I discovered that my money clip was gone! The realization hit like a fist. It wasn't the money so much as it was the clip.
My wife had given me the clip some years ago, probably hoping it would help me become more organized. This was sweetly optimistic on two levels. First was the hope that I could ever become organized; second was that I would ever have so much cash that it would need organizing.
I retraced my steps back into the store several times. Nothing! I resigned myself to the fact that the clip was forever gone and that some zit-faced teenager was already stuffing my Washingtons into a vending machine.
Knowing that it was futile, I left my phone number with the checkout girl. My phone rang minutes later.
The voice on the other end asked if I'd lost a money clip. I said I had. When asked to describe the lost item, I panicked. I knew that pictures of George were involved but couldn't recall a single serial number.
It finally occurred to describe what the actual clip looked like. The voice said, "That's it! I have your clip!"
My Good Samaritan was a total stranger named Bob Andrews. He said he had espied my clip in the parking lot and never once thought of keeping it.
I offered Bob a reward but he refused.
"Anyone else would have done the same," he said. "A person shouldn't expect to be paid for doing the right thing."
Call it dumb luck or call it karma. All I know is that my belief in the inherent goodness of the human race has been renewed.
Don't just sit there! Go out there and commit random acts of kindness!