Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kindness of Strangers

Oh wretched back, that fails me at my hour of need.
Sometimes I wax Shakespearean when I'm in pain.
You should've heard me when I was in labor. It sounded like King Lear in the delivery ward (ba-dum-bum)...

In case you didn't know, the human body miraculously loosens its joints when a woman is going to have a baby.

The part two of this fact is that it takes months for the joints to settle back into their comfortable places again.

During which time period, backs can go out.
Especially if you lean over all wonky with a whopping 21-pound-baby in your arms.
Silly Mama.

ANYWAY, I digress. Nevermind the abysmal depth of my suffering-no, no, I'll be...(hand on forehead)...alright.

Actually, I wanted to talk today about the kindness of strangers. There's so much bad news. Economy. Politics. The owner of Segway dying because he drove his Segway off a cliff accidentally. (Look, I know it's tragic, but don't pretend you're not laughing, too.)

And in the midst of the suffering, and bad news, and egg recalls, let's celebrate the kindness of strangers, upon which Scarlett depended so much.

Recently, a Kind Sir sponsored a giveaway on this blog. A beautiful wooden bowl was featured. I enjoyed interviewing him, and I loved giving something away. I've been too poor lately to be able to give much away, so it was a blessing to bless someone else with someone else's blessing of a woodworking talent.

Unravel THAT.

Anyway, the Kind Sir, being kind, so thoroughly enjoyed being featured here at the Big Red Couch that he said he wanted to send a small thank-you gift. This took me aback, but I thought it was kind, so I said that'd be fine.

In the mail yesterday, Kind Sir's wife sent a beautifully penned thank-you note (I've never met this charming couple) with a delicate, crocheted bookmark in it, which was handy, because I'm reading a thick paperback book right now and keep manhandling it by leaving it upside-down and open, because I don't have a bookmark, which is ridiculous, because I read so much. All my bookmarks are in storage.

So I thought that that was the kind gift, and then she wrote that the kind gift was on its way, but she wanted to express appreciation in the mean time through this delicate, handcrafted bookmark.

Now, I don't know about you, but the tender kindness of strangers that transcended online interactions was very touching. It's been so dark, lately: no one has jobs, and everyone is losing their house, and fish in the Gulf of Mexico are dying, and Peruvian miners are trapped, and I put my back out - which of course ranks right up there with the rest - and I was touched. I just thought it'd be fun to host a giveaway. But it seems, it was more than that to this artisan.

It got me thinking about other strangers' kindnesses: the time someone helped out when I was in school and foolishly ran out of gas on the side of the road; the times people held the door for me when I was a thousand months pregnant; the time a lady paid for my latte when I realized I didn't have any money in my wallet; the times tired-looking folks at the grocery store tell me to go ahead of them since I have two things and they have twenty; the time an anonymous someone paid for my senior trip in high school (still don't know who...); the time people have called out, saying "oh! your scarf - " or "oh - your change!" or "oh - your glove" or whatever I have forgotten or dropped; the time a bunch of women I'd never met came to my baby shower and shocked me with their generosity; the time...

The time.

I am so thankful, today, for the kindness of strangers; for Providence wearing L.L. Bean turtlenecks or Reebok sneakers or whatever you randomly notice about the person standing in front of you or behind you or next to you, who you don't know, but who is kind.

I hope today you can quickly think of several instances in which strangers were kind to you. Strangers who held a door, or gave your car a jump, or paid your grocery bill, or left a note on your windshield saying "it was me that put that dent there, here's my insurance information," or said "wait - your change!" or "no, go ahead of me, it's okay"...

Please share a few of these experiences with the rest of us.

I am so thankful for the kindness of strangers. I bet you are, too.


Emily said...

Trip to Florida with 6 college-aged women in a minivan. We got stuck in a monster traffic jam near Atlanta and ended up stopped on the freeway for 2 hours--total standstill. We turned the engine off but ran on battery power for the first minutes of the traffic jam. Apparently, we relied on the battery too long, because we couldn't get the car started when the traffic ahead of us began its first rustlings. We were absolutely dead (with no jumper cables) in one of the middle lanes of a six-lane interstate. Just as we were on the verge of despair, two guys hopped out of the car next to us, knocked on the window, and asked if we needed a jump. I have never seen a faster jump in all my days. They had it done in less than a minute, and we turned the van on just as the cars beside us started to move.

The Fuller Family said...

So sorry to hear about your back! I hope you have a speedy recovery and relief from the pain ASAP.

On the kindness of strangers: Once we were moving a piano to our house and the rental vehicle wasn't available as promised at the appointed time. As we drove despondently away from the rental place, we saw the exact truck we had ordered parked at the side of the road.
My husband asked about the truck (thinking it was a rental and wanting information about how to rent one), and the elderly owner just LET HIM BORROW IT. All he asked in return was for us to gas it up and put air in the tires. We did so and returned it that night.
As we pulled into the lot in the darkness, the man's aged face looked so beautiful in the reflected light.
I believe that he was an angel.

Anonymous said...

Happy 30th birthday, Lizbef.