by Rick Boettger…….

Pulling into a checkout lane in Publix last Friday after Matthew, I saw dirt on the floor. The checkout lady was wiping up dirt from all along the counter. The cause? A dozen potted plants in one of four grocery carts stuffed with goods.

The buyer had walked away to get his credit card approved, because, I saw on the screen, his bill was $2,760 dollars. When he got back to swipe his card, I said, “That’s the biggest grocery bill I’ve ever seen in my life. Are you outfitting a boat?”

A few months ago I had seen the biggest purchase of liquor at a local store since my fraternity days. In that case, it was for a ship heading for open water. In this case too, the fellow said yes, it was for a boat.

I asked, “Where are you going?”

He said, “The Bahamas.”

I said, “Is it a mission of mercy?”

And he said, yes. Mostly basics, food, drink, cleaning materials. He said he had four more carts already moved closer to the door.

He was a tall handsome fellow in I’d say his 40’s with a nice accent. He said the good news in the Bahamas was that the south islands were spared. They were so remote it would be very hard to to help them. The good thing about Nassau taking the brunt is that is is well serviced. We agreed that maybe the worst thing about Haiti getting ravaged again was that is was indeed a remote area which lost its only bridge.

I clapped the fellow on the shoulder and said, “Way to go! I’m here with a first responder! I’m so glad you’re helping them out.”

Later that evening I told this story to a friend. He said, “A lot of boats came up from the Bahamas to get out of the storm. There was a bunch docked at the Bight.”
I thought of the fellow’s accent. A bit British. He likely was one of the Bahamians who had sheltered here. I had inexplicitly imagined he was like a pilot friend of mine after the previous hurricane to hit Haiti. He was one of a number of volunteer pilots, some of who like my friend contracted dengue while helping out over there..

At any rate, I am pretty sure the fellow was bringing plenty to share. I am glad our fair city offered shelter from the storm, and that our businesses have helped them get what they desperately need.

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