Every once in a while, I leave work and walk down to the Santa Monica Pier to soak in the sunset and join a smorgosborg of people weaving in and out of each other to the beat of old guitars and the smell of churros.
I was walking along the dock watching a clown make balloon animals synchronized to Michael Jackson songs when I noticed on the deck below that a man had kicked a flopping fish as if he was disappointed with its size and walked away.
The fish was left to its own fate, flopping furiously to get away.
A few kids were watching with big eyes as one parent explained, “It’s okay, there are tons of little fish in the sea.”
My heart started to pound as the tune of Billie Jean pumped through my blood.
I sped walked my giraffe legs down to the bottom of the ramp to see the last bit of hope fade from this little fish’s eyes.
Without overthinking it, I picked up the fish and gracefully dropped it back into the ocean.
As its last fin slipped from my finger tips I heard a man scream and turned to see a fisherman furiously waving his arms and yelling NO, NO, NO, No!!!!!
We had a stare down as he tried to explain in broken english what I had done.
I had thrown away his dinner.
Embarrassed I blushed and offered him money to pay for the fish. I turned to realize more people had gathered to watch the commotion.
An Italian man yelled from the balcony above.
“It wasn’t meant to be!” He opened his hands to the sky, “She is an angel that came to save the fish!!”
Tears welled up in his eyes as he laughed breathlessly.
I apologized to the fisherman and slipped him $20. I walked away red faced, trying to hold back my embarrassment.
I haven’t stopped thinking about it.
I recently watched a movie called The Scent of a Woman. There is an amazing speech at the end where the main character yells into a room of judges:
“Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.”
There are times we come to crossroads in our lives, moments where we struggle to take our next step. But, I think he is right when he says that somewhere deep down in our hearts we know. It’s our gut reaction. The first flutter of feeling that spreads into our blood streams.
Deep down, I knew that yesterday I was supposed to be an angel to a little fish. Naive as it may have been.
And as stupid as it was, I can’t say I am sorry. A little fish needed help. And for once I listened.
That night, a little fish got home safely to its family.
I got home safely to my worried husband.
And we were all so happy to see each other.