Unfortunately, they can turn out to be snide or rude, leaving you disgusted at yourself for believing the opposite was true. However, that is not the case of the Sparks community. I have spent two weeks covering different aspects of the city of Sparks that have shown me that decent human beings still walk among us.
Within three days of taking my reporter’s chair, a printed email lay on my desk describing Bruce Osgood, whom many affectionately referred to as “the Pyramid Highway man.”
In my attempt to muster interview questions, I became very excited at the possibility of writing about the deeds of a man who simply did not mind cleaning the roadside.
Once I had my interview with him set up, I found myself wondering if I was being naïve. I knew how I wanted the story — and Bruce himself — to turn out, but I couldn’t help wonder if I was getting myself into a situation that might undermine the hope I had already placed in this (new) community.
When I met Bruce on an overcast Friday morning two weeks ago, it took us a bit to get acquainted. We threw questions back and forth at each other trying to get a feel for one another, and by the time we had trekked a couple miles on the highway I could not help but smile as he dropped me off back at my car.
Bruce walks for his health, cleans for his community and remains mostly silent because he does not want recognition. He proved to be a truly humble man who cares about the community he has lived in for several years. It made some of us in the newsroom wonder how people could blatantly throw trash out their car windows knowing that they also live here.
Bruce became my Sparks community inspiration — until I met Patti McClelland last Friday. Patti, a retired teacher from Sparks High School, and I crossed paths at an event at the school where she explained to me how she created and expanded a program designed to encourage students to read books. Her system is simple: read books, take tests on comprehension and earn points for raffle tickets. The more books you finish, the more points and tickets you receive. The grand prize: a free car.
Her generosity and sincerity became most clear to me when Patti told me that she and her husband raise all the money for the prizes (which included laptops and a Kindle Fire) for the students at a golf tournament they hold in July.
Her smile was contagious last week at Sparks High, and I believe she could sense my approval when I smiled and told her we would put it on the front page the following day. She and Bruce both embody an attitude, commitment and selfless consciousness that is lacking in today’s world. Everyone can become so wrapped up in their own affairs they forget to be a part of a team. It may seem foolish to help people who might not even care to notice. But maybe, just maybe, they will be there when you need it most. After all, the person you are when nobody is looking is the person you will be for the rest of your life.
Garrett Valenzela is a reporter at the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.