Kind to Mice and Men
For a while, there was a little urban mouse in Damien Vaccacio's life, and everyone knew it.
"I didn't see the mouse," said his mother, Anne Marie, "but I heard enough about this mouse to feel that this mouse was my grandson." Mr. Vaccacio, who was 30 and a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, discovered the mouse one day in his apartment on the Upper East Side, but couldn't bring himself to set a trap for it. So for a year, they shared the apartment, until the mouse gave up the ghost. Later, Mrs. Vaccacio and her husband came across a stuffed toy rat that sang, "I'm a rat, I'm a rat, I'm a really cool rat." They gave it to their son for Christmas.
It wasn't the only time he displayed a compassionate streak. There was the homeless man to whom he constantly brought leftovers from business dinners. Once he gathered up lobsters and steaks from his table at Sparks, Mrs. Vaccacio said, and gave them to the man. The next morning, her son inquired about how he had liked the meal. The answer: "I've had better."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 9, 2002.