Acts of compassion continued to flow in Texas even when electricity, natural gas, and safe drinking water did not. Power has now largely been restored. Water lags. Questions loom.
Last week in this space a colleague described person-to-person (and person-to-wildlife) moments of grace during the crisis.
But capitalism creates a cold juncture of tragedy and opportunism, and the compassion response of businesses has been uneven. Some customers of deregulated power providers saw electric bills surge to $1,000 a day, triggering calls over the weekend to mitigate. A billionaire natural-gas producer last week reportedly described “hitting the jackpot” while on an earnings call.
Still, questionable corporate ethics is never the whole story. The closer a business gets to its customer community, it seems, the more it views success through the lens of service, and the more humanity is manifested.
And so, a Houston furniture store owner with heat, a serial good Samaritan, saw his rooms full of beds and recliners as places of free temporary respite, with pandemic precautions. And the grocery chain H-E-B, another perennial hero, waved grocery-laden customers past its knocked-out registers when an outage hit.
It did so quietly, but shoppers did not let the act go unrecognized. “This is the America that I know,” one posted on Facebook. “Despite all the negative we hear/see being reported daily. ... America and most Americans are still kind, thoughtful, generous, and caring.”