Things I Should Have Done

This one's going to be hard to write.

But, before I start opening up some old wounds, I need to say a word to those who have sent e-mail.

It all gets forwarded to me and it's much appreciated.

Kinda keeps me going.

Right at the beginning, however, I made it clear to Ron...the guy who runs this domain...that I wanted my privacy; that I didn't want to directly correspond with anyone.

I pay a bit of a price for my hermit-like existence...

...but, after all those years in the rat race, I told myself I deserved some peace and quiet.

Hope you understand.

Now, the hard part.

It's time to get some things off my chest while I still can.

I guess it'll make me feel better.

Confessions of sorts are supposed to do that.

We'll see.

I've managed to screw up quite a bit in my life.

Most times it was due to ignorance.

I guess you can forgive not knowing any better.

It's the other stuff...the stuff that some people would consider trivial...that haunts me.

I clearly remember that afternoon when I was sitting alone in a restaurant, all absorbed in all my own concerns, when out of the blue a man in his 60's walked up to my table.

He had been sitting alone at a nearby table.

I guess I was in kind of a defensive mode.  Not to long before someone else had come up and tried to get money for something or other...before the manager asked him to leave.

But this man simply said, "My wife died a few weeks ago and it's really lonely."

I could see it in his face.

As I recall, I said something immensely consoling like, "I'm sorry to hear that."

And there was a bit of silence.

And, he walked off.

How easy it would have been just to offer him a seat; talk to him; help with his loneliness

But, I didn't.

And it's bothered me ever since.

Then there was the time when I was doing a story on prison inmates advertising for pen pals of the opposite sex...and not always telling them they were in prison. (Sometimes the return address is pretty vague.)

I ended up getting a lot of letters from inmates telling me about their situations.

One man sent me a Polaroid photo of a young, attractive woman and a baby.

He said he had married the woman a couple years earlier, but that she always wanted things he couldn't afford.

To try to keep her happy he wrote checks he couldn't cover.

Which eventually landed him in prison.

And now the woman was refusing to correspond with him.

There was a note clipped to the photo saying that it was the only picture he brought with him and that he wanted it back.

And I fully intended to send it back.

Except that his name and return address were separated from the photo...and I had dozens of addresses on letters and envelopes...

...and I hadn't taken the time to see that things didn't get mixed up.

I would like to think that maybe he was better off not looking at that photo every day...

...being reminded of that baby and that young woman who would no longer write to him.

I would like to think so.

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