Posted by: Shanie Matthews | January 18, 2010

The Rainbow Jacket

The colors brought me to attention.  The rainbow swirls intertwined with the RMI (Rainier Mountaineering INC.) emblem embedded into the thick fleece was undeniable.  It was definitely my company jacket from my years gone by working for the guide service.

Then the vibrant smile caught my eye. This Argentine man-of-little was wearing it with more pride than any of the guides that I worked with ever did.

I was driving down the road when I saw him.  His beaming grin and gallant stature evident that he was a proud man enjoying his thick, warm coat.  At first, my mind jumped to the days of being a base camp manager on the cold and windy shoulder of Mount Rainier.  But the jar of a pot hole brought me back to reality.  No, I was still in Bariloche, Argentina.  Still enjoying my life learning and growing from a culture different than my own.

Growing up, I was (and still am) a passionate lover of cold and winter.  Due to my enamor for all things snowy white and below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, I had accrued a healthy supply of winter jackets, pants, hats, gloves, and a few balaclavas (I am embarrassed to admit).  When we started to down size our belongings for the 7,000 mile move down south I realized that I had enough warm clothes to outfit a few armies.  So, we decided to box the stuff up and send it to our new home in Bariloche.

A few months into living in our new home in a foreign country a person rang our front gate.  The dogs barked incessantly.  It was a sickly man selling large plastic bags for an organization helping AIDS patients.  His blood shot eyes and jaundice-colored skin were proof that he was one of the ailing people in need.  We bought some garbage bags and asked if he wanted a jacket.  He looked up in surprise.  The welling of a small tear gathered in his left eye.  We selected a few jackets from the pile and handed them over.  They were moving on to a better home.

Fast forward eight months later.  Here was the same man, rosy cheeked, smiling and walking with a jump in his step.  I know that it is not my jacket that has helped him move towards a happier life, but I wonder if it has a part.  How can a coat colored in the bright colors of rainbow cheer not brighten up a person’s day, and warm it too?


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