He had a small but loyal network
Its something we’ve all seen innumerable times in our local papers– a person gets injured or killed by a hit & run driver– and most of us read it, shake our heads and move on. Sure we may give a passing thought or two to their family, and perhaps an angry thought or two directed at the hit & runner, but we move on.
Until some douchebag posts a comment on the local paper’s website under the story, as was the case in Florida recently. Neil Alan Smith was riding his bicycle home from his job as a dishwasher at a local Crab Shack when he was struck by a car. His head struck a light pole and he died six days later. When the paper ran the story this comment appeared;
A man who is working as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack at the age of 48 is surely better off dead.
The paper rightfully removed the comment, but it spurred a writer to take a deeper look at Mr. Smith, to show that every life matters. The story is moving and a lesson for anyone willing to accept it; that regardless of what station we are at in life, we matter, if only to those closest to us.
This much is certain about Mr. Smith: A number of people miss him.
He had a small but loyal network of co-workers and friends who are planning soon to celebrate his life.
He was a guy that went to work every day, riding his bike 4 miles each way. He worked in the same place for 10 years without a raise or bonus. He had friends and neighbors. He was quiet and reserved, and had little family.
Mr. Smith did not talk much about his past, friends and co-workers said. Both his parents are deceased. Police list Debra Coito of Haverhill, Mass., as his sister. Friends say she was a twin, but that he almost never mentioned her.
“He set his boundaries,” said Peggy Rogers, 56, his roommate of six years. “He didn’t pry into your business, so you just kind of respected that and you didn’t do that to him.”
He was a guy with a big heart;
He lived in a mobile home near the restaurant and paid rent to the owner, Bonnie Schaeffer-Mott. Once, when she feared the power company would shut off the electricity, she asked Mr. Smith for help.
He gave her more than what she had asked to borrow and insisted she take it. “I’ll never forget that,” said Schaeffer-Mott, 51.
Mr Smith could be any one of us. So, a big thank you to St. Petersburg Times writer Andrew Meacham for writing about Mr. Smith, and giving us a little more insight into the life of a stranger, that’s no longer a stranger.
Rest in Peace Mr. Smith.
If you are reading this, and have time, please, go read the article at tampabay.com.