“How are you?”
I was deep in thought about a third of the way through on the Golden Gate Bridge. I hadn’t walked it since last year, when Taylor and I walked the entire length before finding out that dogs were not allowed on the bridge. We walked the walk of shame on the way back, Taylor’s head held high in defiance. It’s early Saturday morning. The bridge is devoid of people, but cars are filling it to get out of the city. I imagine the trails in Marin will be busy today.
An affable man with a huge smile drove up in the Golden-Gate-Bridge-Patrol-mobile, and again exclaimed, “how are you?”
“I’m good!” And we ended up having a great conversation over the following ten minutes. At one point, I asked him, “You have the greatest job! You just go around saying hi to everyone on the bridge?”
“If they are alone, I definitely stop to say hello.”
There are many moments in my life where I have been and am clueless. This was one of those times.
Hector motioned for me to come a little closer, dropped his voice to a loud whisper to be heard over the oncoming traffic, “Suicides.”
I was immediately transported to the moment when my buddy Derek sent my brother and I a text of a charity event he attended.
“The one guy who was a main speaker although he did it remotely was a CHP officer who patrols the golden gate bridge. The #1 suicide site in the world. Tonight was a story of a man he talked off the railing and back up to life. That guy now has 2 kids and one in the way but he had wanted to kill himself because he has just lost his job and his daughter had mounting hospital bills. He said it was the officer that made him realize that humanity is good and that help is always where you least expect it. Touching story.”
Back to the present and responding to Hector… “Oh wow, a buddy of mine literally just told me that a few days ago! Aren’t there more suicides here than at any other place in the world? Why would anyone want to jump from someplace so beautiful?”
“There is a bridge in China that has more, but that’s only cos there are more people there. Unfortunately, we are number two.”
And that made me sad. What happens in one’s life that could be so bad that you’d want to end it? I posed the question to Hector, to which he responded, “You know wha they are thinking that moment before they jump? Peace. Cos their pain is about to be over.” I didn’t question him how he knew that, or even how it was possible to know that.
But maybe I can see that. It’s so stunningly beautiful on this bridge. From every vantage point, you can see both God’s glory and man’s accomplishments. It’s truly inspiring.
And for some, it’s the last thing they want to see before saying goodbye to it all.
You go Hector. I know it’s your job, but know that you are truly making a difference in people’s lives simply by saying hello.
Have you said hello to someone today?
Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.
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