Celebrating Pablo and Erica!

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This narrative won’t be about Donald Trump. It could be, but it won’t.

Neither will it be about Bill Cosby. It could be, but it won’t.

Neither will it be about Howdy Doody. It could be, but it won’t.

But it will be about “Pablo” and “Erica,” two incredible human beings (I use that description purposely for reasons you’ll see below) who I’ve never met nor have most of you.

But wait, first, how about a few mental gymnastics here. So quick, before I count to five, think about the number of people you know personally, or read about, with the first name “Pablo. Jot them down on a piece of paper. A napkin will do.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Okay, tell you what – I’ll give you another ten seconds to scour your memory bank.

Now my list includes Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, sculptor, ceramicist, poet and playwright, the late Pablo Escobar, Columbian drug kingpin and Pablo Sandoval, third baseman with baseball’s Boston Red Sox, my favorite team…my favorite last place team according to this morning’s paper.

But there’s another “Pablo” and you probably won’t find him on Wikipedia. His name may not pop up on your screen should you do a Google search. So let me introduce you to Pablo Cesar Saldana, Jr. And the best way for me to do that is to share a large poster that appeared one day recently in the window outside his restaurant:

“To the person going through our trash for their next meal, you’re a human being and are worth more than a meal from a dumpster. Please come on in during our operating hours for PB&J, fresh veggies, and a cup of water at no charge. No questions asked.”        – Your friend, the owner

Now that I’ve managed to lasso you in emotionally with Pablo’s poster, let me now saddle you up with Sgt. Erica Hay of the Ocala Police Department in Florida.

But first, let’s repeat our exercise: Before I count to five, think about the number of people you know personally, or read about, with the first name “Erica.” The guess here is that it took you less time to come up with a list of folks you know by the name of Erica than it was for your list of those by the name of Pablo.  Hey, I can see ya’ll nodding out there?

You see Erica saw a homeless man sitting out on a curb and decided to buy food and coffee for him. But Hay didn’t just give the man something to eat — she joined him on the curb with food of her own and the pair ate their meals together. The pair’s time together was caught on camera and uploaded to Facebook and before long it went viral.

Erica Hay had just gotten out of a meeting when she went to pick up some breakfast for herself. After she saw the man and decided to sit down with him, the pair enjoyed a nice chat. They talked about the man’s background and the sergeant learned that he had been going through some daily struggles.

While people online praised Hay for her kind act, the sergeant said that she was treating the man like she would anyone else.

“He’s just another person, just like I am. I know I enjoy company when I eat. I just sat down and ate with him,” Hay told the Huffington Post. “He’s just like any other citizen. He’s homeless, he might need our assistance more … but he needs us just like everyone else does.”

In a present day world replete with political vitriol, vicious name-calling, asinine reality shows, manifestations of incivility, disrespect and outright hate and bigotry, the stories of good folks like Erica, Pablo (and the countless number of other great people who do great things “while nobody’s looking”) don’t get told because they don’t sell papers and they don’t drive up ratings.

But unless they’re caught on Facebook, like Pablo, or on camera, like Erica, they go largely unnoticed, their stories don’t get told. And if you leave it to both of them, they’ll probably prefer to keep it that way because the limelight, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and the paparazzi are the last things they want. Why? Because that’s the kind of people they are.

So Trump aside, maybe the dream ticket to occupy the White House the next time around would be Pablo the president and Erica the vice president….or, I’d be perfectly okay if it were the other way around.

To Pablo and Erica, know that it is caring, sensitive and sensible folks like you who epitomize the greatness of humanity and of human spirit. Here’s hoping that someday and somehow our paths will cross again and again as we travel the open road…and sidewalks too!

(c) Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, story teller, trainer and senior associate with Diversity Wealth, and contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle. He resides in metropolitan Atlanta and can be reached at wwhoward3@gmail.com

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