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“If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
—Barry Lopez
(as Badger, in Crow and Weasel)


To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
- e. e. cummings


Meet Hugh Moore

------- -I don't try to be self-righteous, or even all that righteous. I'm not usually one to tell others what to do or how to live, but there are those times when it seems you truly must stand up and demand that a friend make a worthy choice.
-------When I was in college, video games became very popular. It seemed as though people from every conceivable social strata were dropping quarters into these electronic marvels in endless streams. My friend and I were no exception. We jumped on the "Space Invader" bandwagon in a big way.
-------Following a rather lengthy session of "Galaxian," my friend and I, cross-eyed and quarterless, realized it was time to leave. As we made our way toward the exit, my companion found a twenty-dollar bill lying on the floor amongst a small pile of credit card receipts. He picked it up and put it in his pocket and gleefully headed toward the exit. Feeling uneasy about the turn of events I raced ahead of him and asked to see the receipts. They were unmistakably marked with the name "Hugh Moore."
-------I tried to rationalize with my friend, explaining that it was quite obvious that the twenty-dollar bill belonged to Mr. Moore. I knew it would take very little time or effort to locate the gentleman. I tried to use this idea in explaining that we had a moral obligation to return the pile of paper to its rightful owner.
-------My friend’s stance was firm. There was no guarantee that the bill belonged to Mr. Moore just because it found its way to the floor in a pile of receipts bearing his name . . . besides, "Finders keepers, losers weepers."
Our banter went on for quite some time. I tried to appeal to his softer, rational side. It became increasingly more evident that this side of my friend was all but lost in this particular moment. All that was revealed to me were his stubborn, selfish, and unreasonable determination. As we stood on the steps just outside the building I felt my own fortitude rise to the occasion. Matching him wit to wit, I flatly refused to move from our location until he made a gesture toward an attempt at locating one Hugh Moore.
-------For what seemed like hours we stood at the doorway, receiving a multitude of strange looks from patrons as they arrived or left the building. I tried to use our subject's name in the argument at every opportunity in the hopes that an eavesdropping Hugh Moore might be making his exit. I was now willing to do almost anything to foil my friend's plan. My insistence turned to anger when my friend crossed that proverbial "line in the sand." In one statement he simultaneously admitted he was wrong and boldly expressed a delight in this position. "Hugh Moore just donated twenty dollars to my bank account!"
-------As I began considering alternatives to his car for my transportation home, he came to realize I was serious in my refusal to leave our location. His position began to weaken slightly. I sensed a willingness to avoid the impending discomfort and strike some form of compromise. Finally, on the principle that he'd feel better in having done the honorable thing he agreed to at least ask the front desk if anyone had reported the loss. I knew my friend well. I knew he had rationalized that he would quickly and nonchalantly ask the cashier at the snack bar, then go merrily on his way, having fulfilled my request. He knew no one ever reported that they had lost cash. Feeling somewhat victorious I led the way. As we approached the snack bar area we came upon the location of my friend's discovery. I saw a man whom I recognized seated at a game. Only days earlier we had made comments about his frequent visits to the arcade. As we walked down the aisle beside the game he had been playing I noticed him standing as if to leave. He checked his shirt pocket, displayed a startled expression, and frantically looked at the floor surrounding him. My eyes lit up and I darted toward him. "Sir, is your name Hugh Moore?"
------ "Yes" he replied with a look of question on his brow.
-------I turned and addressed my friend who trailed nearby. "I'd like you to meet Hugh Moore."
-------It would be most difficult to describe the look that flashed on my friends face in that instant. Simultaneously I saw utter disappointment, feelings of bum luck, futility, a hint of relief, an embarrassed laughter, a touch of warmth and satisfaction, emptiness..., all of which seemed to sum it up, as if to say "Wouldn't you know?!" Feeling the totality of the moment, my friend chose not to speak, so I explained the situation to a most grateful Mr. Moore. He didn't have to know the turn of events that lead us to him. My friend was his honest and forthright hero for the moment.
-------As we walked to the car I noticed my friend’s emotions changing. I shared with him my opinion that he knew he'd have felt miserable if he had left with Mr. Moore's money in tow. Agreeing with me, he began to laugh about the situation as we both poked fun at his stubbornness and greed. With the lightness of feeling associated with making the correct choice, we drove away, still laughing at the evening’s events.

© 2004 - The Trill House