Have you ever had an experience where you needed support, someone showed up, helped
you, and disappeared before you could even say thank you? I call these people angels. Sometimes they pull you out of danger's way; other times, they teach you something you need to know; and sometimes, they provide you with financial support when you desperately
need it. Can you think of an angel in your life?
ANGELS IN THE CITY OF ANGELS
My first angel experience occurred when I lived in the
city of angels, Los Angeles, California. I lived near Whittier College with my wife and three children, all below the age of five years. I worked weekends selling Time Shares in Pasadena to make a little extra money. I realized later that believing that selling
Time Shares was a real money-making option was pure fantasy because, in reality, most of the salespeople I knew made little or no money over the three years I worked in the industry.
At the time, I owned a four-seater BMW which had just enough space
for my three child seats in the back and my wife, Berkeley, and I in the front. Since we had one car, Berkeley would drive me to work in the mornings with the kids in the back and come back in the evening to pick me up after work. To get to Pasadena from our
home in Whittier was a twenty-minute drive up the 605 Freeway and then another twenty minutes along the 210 Freeway to the Time Share offices in downtown Pasadena.
One Sunday, near closing hours, a stranger walked into the room, approached me, and said,
"Are you Baron?" I answered affirmatively. He excitedly continued, " Your family needs you." "Your car broke down, and your wife and three kids are stuck on the side of the 210 Freeway." Those were the days before cell phones, and Berkeley had no way to reach
me except this man who drove twenty minutes out of his way to find me and take me to her. As we set off to get my family, I asked this total stranger why he was doing this. He answered that working with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation allowed
him to hear many stories about stranded people on the freeways suffering abuse or worse. And he did not want my wife and kids to suffer that faith.
When we arrived, my attention went immediately to my wife, who was attending to three babies on the side
of the highway. I ran over to ensure she was okay and to discuss what to do with my car. When I finally turned to say thank you, my angel was gone.
MY NIKON D80
I love to take pictures, and I used a Nikon film camera for most of the twenty years I have been taking pictures. However, as the technology improved, I planned to purchase a digital camera, but each time I looked,
the price was too high for me.
However, around three years ago, a terrific friend, Barbara Jeske, decided to give me her Nikon D80 camera because she was not using it. I was in ecstasy. I had to make some minor corrections to get it working right. To
add to the significance of my Nikon D80, Barbara died, and the D80 was a small part of Barbara that I could carry around with me as I traveled the world taking pictures.
Well, on my first trip with the camera, I went on the Long Island Railroad to see
my friend, Fred, before I departed from Kennedy airport for Ukraine. As is my custom, I would fall asleep on the train but, hopefully, wake up before I arrived at Stony Brook Station. I became present when the conductor shouted, "Stony Brook!' In a panic,
I grabbed the three bags I had and ran off the train, leaving my D80 camera on the seat behind me.
"Oh my God!" was my first reaction as I stood on the station platform watching the train pull away with my camera. The only good news was the next train
stop was the Port Jefferson Station, the last stop on this train line. I immediately thought of following the train as quickly as possible and looking for my camera at the next stop. When Fred arrived, I screamed, "Follow that train. I left my camera on the
train." Without hesitation, Fred put the car in gear and raced toward the Port Jefferson Station. However, the traffic was quite heavy, and we could not move as fast as we would like, but after about fifteen minutes, we arrived at the station, but no train
that had already left.
Fred chimed in, "The train must be in the train yard, and I know where that is." Off we went along the back
streets of Port Jefferson until we found the train yard. It was dusk when we got there, and there were no cars around. Fred stayed in the car as I sheepishly walked into the depot. The train was there, but no one was in sight except one man leaving his office
near the back of the yard. I ran over to the man, told him my problem, and asked him for help. To my surprise, he sprang into action immediately, running to the front of the train to find the engineer. He told the engineer that I had left my expensive camera
on the train and that he would take a look to see if he could find it.
Off the engineer went looking side to side in each car, moving as fast as he could, but he returned shaking his head to indicate that he did not find my Nikon D80. I had lost my only
piece of Barbara. I was saddened and about to walk back to the car when I asked the engineer if there was a Lost and Found area. He answered that the Lost and Found was in that locked garbage bin against the wall.
We ran to the bin as the train started
its journey back to New York City. The container had a massive lock and a relatively small lid for people to drop things through the hole. When I looked through the hole, I saw nothing but darkness, but my friend had a smartphone with a light, and when he
put the light in the hole, we could see the camera at the bottom of the bin. I erupted with laughter. However, when I inquired about the process of getting the camera from Lost and Found, I discovered that it would be a long, complicated process. I decided
to get the camera out of the locked bin. I found a long stick with a hook, and with the help of the smartphone's light, I got the camera out of the bin. I hugged my friend, kissed him, and ran off to tell Fred the excellent news. Our efforts had paid off.
There were many angels in this story. Fred, his speeding car, and his unquestioned commitment to help me catch the train. The rail yard worker with the smartphone and the engineer willing to delay his train to help someone he did not know. I can remember
being in an awkward situation without help. But this time, with my three angels' coordinated efforts, I took my D80 to Europe and capture some excellent photographs.
AN ANGEL AT THE HUNTINGTON TRAIN STATION
I am not sure why, but my angels seem to show up at train stations. I was again off on one of my yearly trips. This time I would be traveling for two months, so I was carrying
four bags - two large fifty-pound bags and two small carry-on bags. Usually, I only take my computer bag and a rolling suitcase with all my clothes. But since I was going be away for around sixty days, I needed my computer, travel documents, my Nikon D80,
medication, since I am diabetic, and my clothes.
Navigating four bags is a struggle, even when they roll. I had to get them on or off trains, and wait for the elevator instead of using an escalator. And there is no way; I could easily carry one hundred
pounds of bags up and down stairs. I had successfully made my first train ride from Albany, New York, to Penn Station and had used the elevators and the relatively smooth rolling surfaces to get around. However, my first challenge occurred when I was forced
to use the escalator to get to the Long Island Railroad ticket counters. As I stood at the top of the escalator trying to figure out how to get onto the escalator safely, a good samaritan offered to take one of my large bags down with him.
I made a shy
of relief. After getting my ticket, I positioned myself in front of an elevator to wait for the tracking number for the train to Huntington. At Huntington, I would have to change trains to Stony Brook. The ride to Huntington was uneventful, but as I got off
the train, I could sense that I might have some problems.
Usually, the train to Stony Brook comes in on the same track as the train from Penn Station. However, tonight, I noticed that everyone was climbing the two flights of stairs to get to the narrow
corridor that would take them to the platform on the other side of the station. I stood there in disbelief as the train to Stony Brook rolled into the station. My first thought was to find the elevator. At this moment of indecision and uncertainty, my angel
showed up. He looked like a homeless man who was about to approach me for some money. I asked him where I would find the elevators to get me to the other side of the station. He said that the elevator did not work and that I would miss my train if I did not
hurry. It was eleven at night, and I was not sure if this was the last train and what the consequences would be if I missed it.
Without saying another word, this man grabbed my most enormous bag and started to run. He was pretty high because he ran
with the fifty-pound suitcase as if it was a feather. At first, I did not know what he was doing. Maybe, he was stealing my bag. I wasn't sure. I ran after him. He started up one flight of stairs, then another as if he was an athlete. I struggled to keep up,
but at least I realized that he was trying to help me catch the train. I was huffing and pushing as I ran across the corridor downstairs to the train. My angel was already on the platform holding the last open door on the train. As I got to him, I extended
my hand, and he shook it; I got on the train, and he disappeared into the darkness of the night.
I felt inspired, lucky, and blessed and decided to write about him. But as I started to write, I realized this was a reoccurring experience. My life is
full of angels. I am a good human being who has been supported and helped by many great people. I am who I am because of the angels in my life. In upcoming stories, I will tell you about some of the people who have changed my life forever.