The Next Right Thing

Image of Principal - 2023
I saw her drop something when she exited the car and rushed into the office building. The vehicle sped off, twirling what looked like an envelope into the busy street.

I hesitated, should I dash out and retrieve it, or keep on my daily walk? What if it was a wallet, or cash in an envelope? Curiosity won and I hurried into the roadway, bending over to grab it as a taxi whizzed by so close it nearly flattened me. The driver honked and waved. I waved back, using my whole hand.
It started drizzling, leaving me no time to examine my find. I looked up at the building. Twenty-one stories meant finding the envelope's owner would be like the proverbial needle in a haystack, especially since the Uber, or Lyft driver was long gone.
By the time I was back at my condo, the rain was pounding on the sidewalk and I was thankful I'd worn my waterproof topcoat. After starting a fresh pot of coffee and changing into dry pants, I took the envelope out of my pocket, only to discover I'd retrieved a horse of another color. At first glance, I thought it might contain cash, but upon closer examination, I realized it was a bill from a therapist for exactly one hundred bucks.
It wasn't the person being billed that caught my eye, but the agency and service it had provided. I took a deep breath and poured a cup of coffee before thinking things through.
Grief Alleviation Associates was the agency doing the billing and it was for something they called sibling suicide and loss therapy. That was sad in and of itself, but the red PAST DUE stamped across the bottom made my gut wrench.
I thought back to my childhood sixty years before. I grew up dirt poor at a time when personal loss wasn't talked about. When my mother died, it was one of the things that pulled me into a bottle, not letting me out until I stumbled, reeking of desperation, into my first AA meeting when I was thirty-five.
What had been the equivalent of a hundred bucks when I was a kid, five, ten? Who knew. We hardly ever saw anything bigger than a quarter. If my older brother and I hadn't been good shots and unafraid of getting caught, the venison that kept us from starving would never have made the supper table.
I closed my eyes and meditated for a while, letting various messages and things said at meetings flow through my mind. One kept returning, something Albie J. said at almost every meeting. "Don't forget to do the next right thing."
I went to my desk, grabbed a stamped envelope and my checkbook, then wrote out a check for the hundred with ‘next right thing' on the memo line. After addressing it to the agency, I put the woman's name and address at the top and sealed it. I'd sleep well tonight.

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