Since it’s Christmas Eve, I thought I’d tell a story about a time when my cynicism was proved wrong.
When I worked as a reporter for the Pocono Record, we always had the police scanner on, so we would be the first to know if an accident or anything else had happened.
One call that I would always hear over the dispatch was for a “welfare check.” Whenever I would hear this call, I would think this: That the welfare check had arrived in the mail and now relatives or whoever it might be were fighting over the cash.
That may sound crazy, but that is what I thought: that the US Department of Health and Human Services had sent the monthly allotment of money and now the people who received it were quarrelling fiercely over it, so fiercely that the police needed to be called.
This made sense to me, as people in difficult situations tend to fight intensely about money.
Well, after I left the Pocono Record -- maybe like a year or two after -- I learned -- don’t ask me how -- what a “welfare check” in this context actually meant.
It meant that one person was worried about another person’s well being and had called the police to have that person checked on. Hence, welfare check: to check on someone’s welfare.
The calls that I had been hearing over the dispatch centered around compassion and caring, not money.
I was humbled when I learned that.
Merry Christmas, ya’ll.