Saturday, June 28, 2008
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
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
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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
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
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!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
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!
Monday, May 5, 2008
The day goes by, quickly, although I start to fail around 4 pm. Five o'clock comes, and I clock out. I go out to the car, the alarm works, and I get in. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. The telltale sound of a dead battery. Another dead battery. I call my husband to tell him what's up, then call my auto club begging help. I am told that within the hour someone will rescue me. The hour goes by. Nothing. I call back. Apparently, there is traffic; someone will be there within twenty minutes. Twenty minutes goes by. Then another forty. I am knitting and texting and talking to people on the phone, getting opinions. I call back the auto club. Where is my white knight? Allegedly the computers were down at the shop, so they couldn't get a call out to the driver, but they were finally able to contact him, and he should be there withing ten minutes. Another call beeps in; I don't recognize the number. I assume it's my rescuer, and I hang up with the auto club, ready to give the driver a small piece of my mind. He sounds very friendly on the other end of the line, more so when I mention that I've had a very hard weekend, first I turned forty, then my Jetta dies, now this. He said, "I know you aren't complaining about turning forty. I just turned forty-two, and I look twenty-five." I commiserate that it really is better than the alternative, and that I don't look my age either. We chat a bit, and then I see his van. We hang up.
He gets out of the van, and my first words to him are, "Dude, you are so lying to me if you maintain that you're 42." He really does look 25. He says that he has a 21-year old son, and he's been married for 22 years. Man alive. I tell him that he is remarkably well preserved. He says, "I don't let things stress me, you gotta just smile and laugh it off. Stress will kill you." Words to live by. He gets my car running, assures me that I will be able to go to the grocery store and then home without a problem, but that I should get the car looked at. He asks how far away my other car is, and I tell him, eighteen minutes -- in the opposite direction. He said that if it was the other way then he'd be happy to come jump it for me. I tell him that if he ever needs any jewelry, to come see me, and I give him my card. He gives me his card, and if I need car help, to please call. Daniel, you made a hard thing not so hard after all.
Recently, I ran into two of the private school teachers who asked what I’d been doing in the six years since I had taught with them. I rattled off the litany of accomplishments and what I’d been busy with and we chatted cordially. We were, it needs to be said, in the middle of a department store and I knew it was the kind of polite conversation one has when catching up with acquaintances.
“So, you went over to teach at School X. Hmmm. How was that?”
Her meaning wasn’t even thinly veiled. She wanted to know, “What’s it like working with poor kids? With lots of Black kids? With those heathens and hoodlums who only come to school to fight and wreak havoc?”
It was to be a polite conversation. This really shouldn’t ruin it, but her tone set my blood to boiling in a matter of seconds. So I began the process of heaping burning coals on her head.
“It was great! I loved it there!”
“Yes, but was it different?”
I hated the way she said that word. Different. It crossed my mind to slap her right upside the head.
“Absolutely not. Twelve year olds at one school are the same as twelve year olds at another. They all have the same basic needs and deserve an education. They are all teachable.”
Not the answer she wanted, I assume. Not what she hoped to hear that perhaps I feared for my life on a daily basis and that I’d been caught up in a fight or two and had to put someone in a headlock. That was, of course, true. But she was positively dripping with anticipation of hearing this. She nearly drooled to get The Goods On Poor Public Educators.
“So, you left there. Where are you now?”
I was under the impression, what with all her salivating, that she already knew. She had heard that I pretty much followed those Poor Kids to the high school where I am currently a guidance dean so I offered it up to her minus any fanfare.
“Oh. WOW. You’re there?” There was no way she wanted to hide her incredulous response. She reminded me of the viper news reporters chomping at the bit to get a juicy story.
“Yeah, I love it. It’s great.”
“Well, I hear bad things about that place. What are YOUR thoughts on working there?”
While I am ever conscious of the fact that I represent my school, my district, my city, and my career in education I know that I am to always be positive. It pains me to give anyone ammunition with which to shoot all educators. Yet, here I was in the middle of a store browsing the aisles for sweater sets. My arms were full of a couple of outfits and I had yet to try them on and didn’t want this to ruin my day.
But I didn’t even have to reply to her.
Out of nowhere a woman came around the corner. She had been listening to our conversation on the other side of the dress rack and came to confront the woman to whom I was speaking.
“What’s the matter with you!? Am I to understand that YOU’RE A TEACHER? There is nothing wrong with where she teaches or works or whatever she does there. My daughter went there and just graduated and I was skeptical of sending her there because of PEOPLE LIKE YOU who bash everything in this town when you don’t know anything about it. Why don’t you take your ass over there and see for yourself? My kids have gotten great educations at both those schools this lady just mentioned!”
It occurs to me that, obviously, I am This Lady.
But This Lady, the one who rocked my world by coming to my defense and the defense of all whom I care to represent, was now my favorite person on the planet. Would she balk if I kissed her full on the lips? Would she hate it if I picked her up and twirled her around the store? Could I send her on an all-expenses paid cruise to the Caribbean?
This Lady, me, will forever be grateful for that bitch slap moment when I didn’t have to sigh and explain myself ad nauseam about why I do what I do. The relief I felt after watching this stranger unleash on former colleagues was thoroughly satisfying.
To The Lady who saved me from having to defend my passion for educating ALL STUDENTS: you are my heroine. I didn’t even buy a dress or those sweater sets. You also made me restructure all future “polite conversations.”
Sunday, May 4, 2008
So someone today or tomorrow, try to share your pearly whites with a stranger. You'd be surprised how much of a difference you might be making in their day.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Aside from just being a freakishly awesome human being, you took the sting out of an otherwise humiliating and absurd situation. Yesterday morning the husband pulled into the parking lot of our friendly neighborhood commuter rail station only to see his train pulling away. Frustrated, he jumped on the Mass Pike to the end of the green line which, with morning rushour traffic, put him within striking distance of being late and drawing the ire of his hospital overlords.
At the end of the day, he wearily boarded the shuttle to the commuter rail, boarded his train, cracked open his book and enjoyed the serene ride back to the suburbs, where he realized at once what he had done.
His car was fifteen miles away at the Riverside T stop. And, oh, by the way, his wallet's gone.
While all of this was happening, I was at my friend's house having a cup of tea while our kids played nearby and my phone rang fruitlessly in my car. Luckily, one of our friends answered his phone and rescued him from the commuter rail parking lot and drove him to his car. One crisis down, one to go.
Once we finally connected, I called our bank and credit card people to cancel his card and then went to the bank to withdraw enough cash to keep him afloat for the weekend (we're to Disney World without him- sorry, dude) while we're away.
One thing that I love about my husband is that he has almost childlike optimism. He said he'd find the conductor in the morning and see if anyone had turned it in. See, I was the one who hung up on him when I heard what happened so I could cancelthosecardsimmediatelyohmygodwhatiftheyboughtahousewithourmoneyalreadywaaaaaaahhhh!! whereas he had faith in his fellow commuters. When I spoke to him this morning he struck out, but was still hopeful. Moments later our local police called. Someone found his wallet and turned it in. Nothing was missing.
More than helping to restore my faith in humanity, you made it so that Husband didn't have to endure a day at the RMV and the insane labyrinth that is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Licensing of Allied Health Professionals. See, Husband has to keep his professional licenses on him at all times and having to get new copies of these licenses makes the thought of a visit to the RMV look like a day at the beach. You also returned his brand new May T pass (a non-refundable $200 value).
So thank you, whoever you are. From the bottom of our hearts.
Kara and Husband
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The man who came to see what I needed was short, bald, and tubby 'round the tummy. But more importantly, he had a kind smile and didn't seem annoyed that I had required some sort of assistance. "Would it be possible to get some sort of a wet cloth or something to put on my head?" I asked. "I'm just feeling a little sick and I think it might help."
"Oh dear," he said, looking concerned. "Unfortunately, we don't really have any cloths or anything like that, but I could wet some paper towels for you." I said that would be great, and he went to get some for me. As soon as I put them against my forehead, I began to breathe a little easier. After a few more minutes, the same flight attendant came back again to ask how I was feeling. He also offered to bring me some more Sprite or some Ginger Ale, and when I said, "If there are any more pretzels-" he immediately offered to bring me some. At the end of the flight, I thanked him for helping me, and he brushed it off easily. "I just hope you're feeling better," he said.
So, to that man, whose name I sadly don't remember, thank you. I realize that your job is a thankless one, and that you're often stuck in the skies with whiny, obnoxious human beings. But I want you to know that this nameless, faceless passenger is grateful for your kindness.
And feeling much better - thanks.
On Mass Transit
On the roads of Los Angeles (c/o Illuminate LA)
Returning what was lost in NYC (c/o New York Times)
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Dear Man in the Supermarket Parking lot,
Thanks for taking my cart back inside today just because you happened to be walking in that direction.
Oxford, England, July 1997
Dear Elderly German couple,
Thank you for picking my husband and me up when we were walking to the train station in the rain with our bags. Maybe you don't technically count as strangers because we met you in a restaurant a few days before that. We enjoyed talking to you and ultimately sharing a meal with you at that bar beside the river. Our encounter was brief, but as you can see, your kindness hasn't been forgotten.
This blog was created for the singular purpose of thanking those individuals who went out of their way- and even those who were just doing their jobs- to create a moment of kindness, to save the day, to make you smile. This blog is a space to celebrate the kindness of strangers.
Some strangers donate blood and organs
Some strangers feed parking meters when they see time is about to run out
Some strangers open doors
Some strangers share what they have, even when it's not much
Some strangers see a parent pushing a stroller and help carry it up a flight of stairs or off of a bus
Some strangers share their umbrella
Some strangers return lost wallets
Some strangers lend a hand, or give up a seat, or pay you a compliment on a day you really need it
Some strangers remind us that not all people suck
Go ahead, thank one.