A last wish and a slice of life…
A century ago there was a writer named William Sydney Porter, who wrote wonderful stories under the pen name O. Henry. His tales, like “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Ransom of Red Chief” had surprise endings, and I mention it because he could have done justice to the Philip Workman story.
Workman was a murderer, who was executed in Tennessee this week. As is traditional, he was offered his choice of a final meal, and instead he asked prison officials to buy a vegetarian pizza for a nearby homeless person. They said forget it, the taxpayers don’t give us money to donate to charity, and then they carried out the death sentence.
Then an amazing thing happened. People heard about the request, and began ordering large numbers of pizzas for homeless shelters. Even PETA, the animal rights group, got into the act because of the vegetarian angle. Their Website says, “Nothing like a few veggie pizzas to give a sad story a happy ending.” “Happy ending” might be a stretch, but you get the point.
One more thing, since I began this with an author. There’s another famous writer, Charles Dickens, who could have done a crackerjack job writing about the prison folks who wouldn’t get a pizza for a homeless person. Here’s the story:
What do you want on your tombstone? A pizza in a 2006 file photo. REUTERS//Eric Gaillard