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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I love the smell of altruism in the morning...

I may have mentioned on one or two occasions that I frequent an online scooter forum for Vespa enthusiasts (although the forum's international membership consists of scooterists and motorcyclists of myriad stripe and brand allegiance).

Aside from the pleasure I get from sharing scooter-related opinions and advice with like-minded people around the world, there is a very satisfying sense of community and civility in this little corner of the Internet that is sorely lacking in most other parts of the online and offline world.

While this forum certainly has a clear set of posted rules governing the behavior of the participants, there are also unwritten rules - an oral tradition of sorts - that has developed organically, which deplores bad behavior in general... and larceny in particular. 

When one of the members has a crash as a result of a careless or aggressive motorist, the forum rallies around the member with soothing words of sympathy, advice and 'care packages' of chocolate and such.

And if a member's scooter is stolen (something that happens with alarming frequency, despite security precautions such as alarms and locks), a network of members springs into action to offer advice on dealing with insurance issues, as well as passing around regional lookout notices to help try to recover the stolen property.

But at the end of the day, everyone is expected to be responsible for their own safety, as well as for the security of their equipment.  Which means that while we may sympathize with an injured rider and commiserate over a stolen scooter.  As adults, everyone is expected to play the cards they are dealt... and, where necessary, ante up.

This past week, an unusual, but heartbreaking photo was posted on the forum by a member.

It seems a ten-year-old little girl in Missouri had been given a mini-electric (rechargeable) scooter, and had parked it for safe-keeping on the front porch of her family's home.  This wasn't a real scooter, mind you.  It was just a sophisticated electric (albeit, rideable) toy meant to be used in parking lots and on sidewalks.

In spite of the precaution of placing it on the porch, some miscreant stole the little girl's scooter.  The next day, the girl made up a large sign which she placed in a prominent spot near her house... and a picture of the sign was posted to the forum:

Stolen scooter

Something about the sign seems to have struck a note with the members of the forum.  Maybe it was the fact that the little girl was responding to her loss in such a positive and mature manner.  Maybe it was because of her excellent spelling, grammar and penmanship.  Maybe it was just a basic, 'There but for the grace of G-d, go I...', sort of thing.

Whatever the reason, forum members started asking questions such as, "What kind of scooter was it?"... "How much did it cost?"... "Can you show us a picture of what it looked like?".

Apparently the scooter was still so new that the family hadn't had a chance to photograph the little girl riding it, but they posted a picture they found of the exact model and color along with an estimated replacement cost (according to Amazon) of about $250:

Electric scooter
Without anyone actually issuing a call to action, one by one many of the hundreds of forum members around the world started chiming in to pledge a few dollars towards replacing the little girl's scooter.

After it quickly became clear that we were well on our way to covering the cost of the stolen scooter, the owner of a (real) scooter dealership in LA, who is also a forum member, stepped up and promised to provide the balance of whatever was needed to replace the little girl's scooter.

All of this took place in the course of just a few days.  And ironically, it wasn't even a 'real' scooter that was stolen... just a battery powered, rechargeable sidewalk/parking lot toy.

It made me feel proud to be part of such a community.  And it warmed my heart to see that the instinct to perform 'Tikun Olam' (repairing the world), crosses religious, racial, political and geographic lines.

I love the smell of altruism in the morning.  It smells like... kindness.

[I hope to post a photo of the little girl on her new scooter once this small corrective action has run its course]

Posted by David Bogner on July 10, 2013 | Permalink

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Thanks. I needed that. Love the allusion.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 11, 2013 5:23:29 PM

Sweet. I love when people live up to their potential.

Posted by: Alissa | Jul 11, 2013 7:22:30 PM

So, did the dealer throw in a heavy chain and a padlock? Just sayin'.

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 12, 2013 3:05:25 AM

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