I went to the bank today. It was just before noon, and they were in the process of closing.
This is a good bank.
They're a local group, not one of the faceless megabanks we all know and loathe. Their lobbies reflect the seafaring heritage of this area, with decor of authentic, vintage ships binnacles, ships wheels, accurate half-hulls on the wall, and some of the finest framed canvases of the art of the sea you'll find this side of a prestigious museum.
A quiet dignity prevades the building. Not the artificial sense of wealth and exclusion of a consultant/designer/decorater appointed McLobby. No, this is a place that respects money hard-earned, and those who labored to earn it.
Quite a few young people work there. Or, I'm just the old fart flirting with the twenty-something at the teller's window. Regardless, there's an energy and enthusiasm there that I wish I could bottle and sell. It's not an over-the-top, rah-rah kind of thing. I doubt this crew has ever had to suffer though a corporate teambuidling excerise, either.
After I'd completed my transaction, I was about to leave the lobby when I noticed a young employee folding three flags he'd taken down from the flagpole in front of the bank. This kid couldn't have been more than nineteen, but he wasn't the typical teen-slacker type at all. A sharp crew cut, almost Marine Corps in it's precision, his polo shirt had creases on which shaving would be a safe option. Dockers perfectly gigged to his shirt, I pegged him as at least an R.O.T.C. type, or perhaps a kid waiting for admission to Texas A&M.
But he was lost with those flags.
They were lying on the lobby sofa, in halves and in squares. He was so folding a small American flag when I quietly walked over, and asked him if he needed help in properly folding that precious banner. He didn't quite know what I meant, and that's when I knew, and my heart fell.
Gently taking charge, I instructed him to hold the field end of the flag, firmly and tautly extended. Following my words and moves, he folded the banner as I directed, and he watched in amazement as I walked towards him, lovingly cornering that flag, triangle by triangle until we were hand-to-hand at the final tuck.
I held that tricorned flag with it's pocket barely opened, and talked him through how to tuck the final bit into itself to form a perfect tricorned presentation.
As we made that final told and tuck, I asked him to remember the veterans and their families who see him take that flag down every day. I told him what it means to us to see our flag receieve the honor it deserves. And I thanked him for his patience as I taught him to render this honor.
Going back to my car, it was another ten minutes before I could see clearly to drive back to work.
The next time you see that kid in your town having trouble with the Flag of the United States of America, take a moment and go help. He will never forget that lesson.
And neither will you.