Saturday, June 28, 2008

"If I wanted your money, I would have kept your wallet."

It was a good day. I ran the 10K in Central Park. We took Poppy to the Zoo, with her pal G. Many of the animals were awake and even the polar bears were swimming. Under a cloudless sky and the warming sun, we feed the goats, pat the bunnies and even got a cab just past the construction for a traffic-free ride home. The Mini-one ate a good lunch and cooperatively hit the sack for a nice nap. Later, we made our way to Tompkins Square Park for some playgroud-ing with another mate, Ben, and stopped at Pete's-A-Place for dinner. Good, indeed.

I dropped the girls off at home, gathered my things and headed out to M's house for a long awaited poker game. My travel plan got interrupted the L Train isn't running weekends, so the buses were lined up to carry us West. I read some found pages and gawked at walking people's from the elevated view. easy trip across town and a lazy five-block walk up to the game. All was well until I reached for my wallet and buy-in money.

Uh, it's not there, in my right-side jacket pocket. I know it was there, I put it there while I was . . . on . . . the bus. Damn! I dropped it, or it fell or Ah crap! A and I decided to walk the few blocks just to see if it was on the street or in trash can. Wandering with the empty sense of loss, I knew it was gone. Down a couple blocks and back up, the perfect spring evening alive with voices and vices.

I called The Girl for some consolation and a quick look around the house. I knew it was gone, just knew. Dammit! Back at M's house I started with the bank card and dialed Customer Service figuring this process would take up most of my time a the card table. Touch toning my way through the menu, the call waiting beeped me, it was The Girl.

"Today is your luck day. Mark has your wallet and is outside the Whole Foods."

"Wow. are you kidding me?"

"No. He said he wait for you. Here's his number. Call him, get in a cab and go get it."

Stunned and amazed, I hung up on the Bank and dialed. Mark answered with an upbeat call of my name, confirmed he my billfold and gave a quick description of himself.

I was 10 minutes away, max, and hopped in a cab. On the way over, I felt the vast wash of loss and realized, too, that he had to call information to get the home number. That in and of itself is a lot more effort than most people put forth. I struggled with some way to pay him back, some way to re-pay his kindness, generosity and selflessness. In any town, those are impressive qualities. In New York City, they're nothing short of pious.

At Union Square, I got out of the taxi and dialed Mark again to find one another. After an acknowledgement and a firm handshake, he reached into his front pocket and there was my wallet.

"I can't thank you enough for this. Can I give you a twenty or something."

With a slight chuckle he said, "If I wanted your money, I would have kept your wallet. There's just some good karma going on here, between us. Keep it up."

He turned, reached for his bags as I wandered off toward M's house, wallet firmly in my rear pocket. I don't know who he is or what he was or where he, but I'm sure glad Mark was in the cards for me last night, there and there.

Thanks, Mark. Thank you SO much.

Submitted by Doug over at elevene

Kindness Returned

At a cafe I worked at for a while, we had a lot of regular customers -- some we liked, some we didn't, some we just recognised. But two stand out firmly in my mind. One of our regulars came in to have a cup of coffee and get some work done while another was having breakfast with her family. The first customer knocked over her drink, and before any of us could notice, the second was on her feet, napkins in hand, helping clean up the spill and make sure the first customer's paperwork and laptop were out of harm's way. It struck me as such a kind action -- disrupting breakfast with your family to jump to a stranger's aid. It struck me even more when the first customer came to the counter to pay for her drink -- and insisted on paying for the entire family's breakfast! It was absolutely heartwarming to see two women who had never met before do such kind things for each other; it went a long way toward putting everyone there in a better mood, and a better frame of mind about the state of the world. So to both of you, thank you for being such wonderful examples of what we should all be striving for!

And thank you to you for this blog; it's put a smile on my face, and I look forward to reading more in the coming weeks.

-anonymous waitress in austin

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Life Saving

In 1993 I went off to college at Florida State University. I had spent my entire high school career dating a guy who was mean, thoughtless, mildly physically abusive, and wildly emotionally abusive. He was a deadbeat loser and had no business at a university, so I saw my acceptance letter as a ticket out of that relationship (why doesn't an 18 year old think she can just make the decision to end it herself?). Until, on my first night in my dorm, deadbeat loser called to tell me he was following me up to Tallahassee to get a job. My heart sank.

When he got to town, we continued dating and fighting. He continued cheating on me and telling me it was my own fault. He took my money, ate my food, and ruined every opportunity I had to make new friends and get the most out of what should have been an exciting time for me. One night, though, went way beyond the kind of standard mind-fuck he'd been laying on me for four years.

I don't even remember what the fight was about. What I do remember, is that after an hour I knew I was going to die. He was driving my car like a crazy person, because he was a crazy person. He ran red lights, spun out in the middle of intersections with traffic on-coming, sped up divided roads going the wrong way. It wasn't just the driving that made me aware that my time was up. It was the fact that, in a calm and reasoned voice, he told me that he was going to kill me. He realized then that he had no way to do it. I guess using the car put him at too much danger himself. He told me that we were going back to his apartment so he could get his baseball bat.

I'm not sure which is more absurd, the fact that he left me sitting in the car while he ran upstairs to get my murder weapon, or the fact that I obeyed. But there I sat, car running, utterly convinced that this was my night to die. I'd shut down. I was defeated. But that's when everything changed.

A woman from the apartment complex had heard the whole thing. As he disappeared up the stairs, she came to my window and looked me sternly in the face. This was no time for lengthy interventions. She simply locked onto my eyes and said, "Run."

I blinked, confused. "RUN!" She was yelling now.

"But, it's my car."

She would not be disuaded. "Then drive."

I nodded my head and got out of the car, got back in the drivers seat, and drove away. I went all the way home to Orlando that night. I ended up leaving college completely in order to get away from him, and I never did go back and finish.

I have no complaints. I'm alive, I'm married, and my four-week-old son is sleeping in his swing while I write this. All I know is that woman saved me. Not just by getting me out of there that night, but by reminding me that I still had power. I still had a good mind and a good heart and two feet that could carry me away from danger. "Thank you" doesn't seem like enough.

- Jennifer

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Friday morning, May 9th, Jewel-Osco in Woodstock IL

I was doing my shopping with my 2 children, Genevieve is almost 5 and Henry is 2 1/2. We were looking for the on-sale items, feeding our family with healthy foods that are affordable is a little more difficult lately. As we were scoping out the Pirate's Booty - that was on sale! - my daughter realized she was blocking the aisle. "Oh, sorry" she said as she moved aside. The other woman with the cart said thanks and continued on.We continued on with our shopping, only to meet up with the same woman as we were scoping out the on-sale organic meat in the frozen section. "I'm so glad other people shop like me," she said as I was taking out my coupons. "Yeah, even my daughter can recognize sale tags now," I said, rather proudly.
We chatted about finding deals and using coupons, I think both of us enjoying a bit of grown-up talk. Later we met again as she was ahead of us in the check out lane. I noticed lots of baby food in her cart, so I was sure she enjoyed the grown-up talk then, as much as I did. We chatted some more and she left. I finished up and headed out to my car with my bags. As we were walking, this wonderful Mom stopped her car next to me to let me know how pleasant and well-behaved my children are, that I should be proud and how much it meant to her to see that out at the store that day.I thanked her, probably rather profusely, and we wished each other a Happy Mother's Day.

So to the woman at Jewel who noticed that I have nice kids - you made my weekend. Thank You!
Jane Seibert, Harvard, IL

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Summer, 1988, Washington DC, Metro Subway System, Blue Line

I was late for work as usual and found myself running down the steps of the Rosslyn, VA Metro escalator so I might just catch a waiting train heading into DC. This escalator is steep and has hundreds of steps. I’ve run down them before but this time was different. I felt slightly lightheaded as I reached the bottom but was pleased to be able to hop right on a subway car. It was crowded, as usual. As I stood there holding onto a pole waiting for the car to move, I felt the odd sensation of sweat trickling down my brow. And then, suddenly, I realized my eyesight was fading. My eyes were wide open but I could only see grains of light.. I was totally aware (I think). I felt the train start to move and heard the conductor’s voice calling out the name of the next stop. I stood there shocked. It was happening so fast. I couldn’t see anything no matter how many times I blinked. I knew my stop at Farragut West was quickly approaching. Then my stop was called. I moved as if to exit the train even though I was totally blind. It was then that I felt a soft touch on my arm and heard a female voice speak to me. “Dear, is this your stop?”, a woman asked.
I nodded, too overwhelmed to speak. She held my arm and gently eased me out of the packed subway car and onto the station platform. I still couldn’t see anything. She walked me to a bench and sat down with me. She asked if I was alright. All I could muster was “I can’t see.” She told me she was going to get a station attendant and would return in a moment. She came back with the attendant, sat down with me again and lightly held my hand. Just then, I realized my vision was returning. It was gradual, but it was happening. The attendant left, but the woman stayed with me. My sight was fully restored within five minutes or so. The woman said she was so glad for me. Then she left to board another train as this was not her stop. I went to a restroom where I splashed cold water on my head and face. I felt completely normal again. Off to work I went, like any other day.

I don't recall if I thanked the woman that helped me that day.

So, to her, I now say "thank you very much. 20 years later I still remember so clearly your care and kindness."


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Saving My Sanity

Last Friday here in Knoxville, TN, I was calling in my prescription refills to CVS and was surprised to see that my birth control refills had run out. No problem - I hit the button for the pharmacy to get the refill information from my doctor. Alright, small problem: It was Friday and I was hearing, "Your prescription will be ready Monday."

Monday?! My next set of birth control pills should start Sunday. In a mild panicked state I called the doctor's office and left a message on the refill hotline that please please please could you call in the refill today?The next morning of course nothing waiting for me.

The kind hearted pharmacist took pity on me and filled the prescription!

I was grateful, my husband was grateful, and even though my son would love a sibling, trust me, he should be grateful as well!

- Paula

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Priceless Lesson

I was at a Carolina Panthers NFL game in Charlotte, NC in November of 2007 with my 21 year old daughter. We were also with a large group of family and friends. At halftime, my daughter and I stood in the long line for the ladies room waiting our turn. When a stall finally opened, I ran in and proceeded with the "public bathroom squat." Looking down, I noticed a small wallet lying between my feet and picked it up after I'd finished. I opened the stall door to see if anyone was looking for it, but everyone inside seemed calm and unconcerned. I opened it up and there was a driver's license, a credit card, and over 100 dollars cash in it. What to do? I didn't want to keep it, but the crowds were coming and going and how do you find someone in a huge crowd like that? I could turn it in to lost and found, but the address on the license indicated she was from out of town, would she be able to collect it before the end of the game? Would it be better to try and contact her myself after the game and get it back to her that way? We left the restroom and joined the rest of our crowd, while I explained to them about this wallet I had just found in the stall. Never did I think of keeping it, but my daughter, a broke college student, started thinking of all the ways she could use that extra 100 bucks. Some of the others we were with encouraged me to keep it as well. But as we stood outside the restroom debating what to do about it, my daughter noticed a woman frantically run in the exit door of the restroom, and recognized her from the picture on the drivers license. I didn't hesitate, I also went back in there and asked her if she was looking for her wallet. She explained that it must have fallen out of her jacket pocket and she didn't realize it till she got ready to pay for some snacks. She was so grateful she wanted to give me some of the money for its return, but I wouldn't hear of it. She started crying and just stood there a moment, then finally grabbed me and hugged me really hard and said "Thank you SO much for being honest."

On the ride home from the game, my daughter quietly said to me "mom, you really would have done whatever it took to find her and return that wallet, wouldn't you?" To which I replied, "of course. No matter what happened, that money didn't belong to us, and no one should gain from someone else's misfortune, and I would hope that if the same thing happened to you or to me, that someone would do the same for us."

If nothing else, I hope my daughter learned a lesson that day. That would be worth far more than 100 bucks found on the floor of a bathroom stall!

~ Sherry