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My Weekend

My brother and sister came into town this weekend to attend a going-away party for some old family friends, the Bradys. I was pretty busy with grading , but I wanted to be  sure I made time to see them. I always love seeing my bro and his kids, and I haven't seen my sister in a very long time.

Fortunately, I got more grading done by Saturday night than I anticipated. So I was able to have an unrushed breakfast of lox and bagels with them Sunday morning. And I went to the party with them, even though I initially didn't think I would have the time.

The turnout was huge. The Bradys had been involved in two different Charlotte churches for over 40 years and had touched a lot of lives. I spent a lot of time just getting out of people's way. I saw a 30-something African-American gentleman with a walker coming down the main aisle , and quickly ducked between a pair of tables. He looked straight at me, and I wondered if he thought I was staring at him.

That's not why he was looking at me. It turned out I had taught him C programming in 1994,. He shook my hand and told me "you were the only teacher I liked". Wow. He's told me he has a good IT job with an energy company, which I was gratified to hear.  Then he introduced me to his wife and said "this is the man who taught me C. He's the reason I can pay the mortgage."

Here I must point out that the main reason he can pay his mortgage is almost surely his own skill and hard work. But I didn't press the point too strongly with him. I rather enjoy being wildly overpraised.

Another man came up to my sister. They hugged and then chatted for a bit. I didn't hear all of the conversation, but I assumed he was one of the kids she worked with in an after school program the Brady's church had about 25 years ago. It turned out I was right, and he wanted to tell her what a great influence she had been on his life.

This was a good day for my family, even thought it was really the Brady's day. After everybody ate, there was a long line of people giving tributes to them. These were very touching to here, but unfortunately I stepped outside when the best line of the day was delivered.

The Brady's first church was in an African-American neighborhood in a poor neighborhood, so there were lots of African-Americans talking about what the Brady's did for them. Finally one man got up and said "didn't  you help any white people?". That was worthy of Chris Rock.

The whole event was a good illustration of how you can have more of a positive effect on people's lives than you might realize, if you just put yourself out a little (sometimes very little...I didn't really go beyond the call of duty with the student I just described.). It would have turned Ayn Rand into an altruist.