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The Kindness of Strangers

February 2, 2017

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”– William Butler Yeats

The Costco parking lot, as we all know, is a zoo right before Thanksgiving, and I was having the time of my life finding a parking spot for my long bed truck.

Inching my way past the row of vehicles, I was forced to step on the brakes as a car in front of me pulled out of their parking spot. The person in the car next to me, unaware of why I had stopped, honked the horn in impatience.

I turned to look at them and realized they were hoping to pull into a parking spot that my truck was blocking. Understanding their frustration, I pointed to the car in front of me to let them know why I had stopped. I saw them peer over their shoulder to where I was pointing and assumed there would be no hard feelings since they now presumably understood why I had stopped.

Continuing my search for a parking spot I drove down the next aisle. Imagine my relief when I saw several available parking spots right next to each other. I knew that pulling the truck in backward would make my getaway much easier and I now had the space to do just that. Shifting into reverse, I inched the truck backward into a parking spot, wishing I has someone to guide me. I jumped out to see how close I was to the car behind me, then got back in the truck to close the two-foot gap.

Looking intently into the review mirror, I inched backward and stopped when a lady who was suddenly visible in my review mirror signaled me to do so. Man–was I grateful to her in that moment and I planned to tell her so. Jumping out of the truck I turned to look at her and was caught off guard as she said, “I want to apologize for honking at you back there. I realized later why you had stopped and I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry.”

Short dark hair, about my age, tattoos up and down her left arm. These are the things my eyes noticed as my brain kept repeating, “I can’t believe she tracked me down to apologize. I can’t believe she tracked me down to apologize. I can’t believe she tra…”

“No worries,” I told her with a smile. “I figured you didn’t realize there was a car pulling out in front of me. By the way, thank you for guiding me as I backed my truck in. That was so helpful.”

“No problem,” she said. “I know what it’s like to try to park a long bed.”

She smiled and turned towards her vehicle to locate her husband. As I headed towards the store entrance I couldn’t help but be grateful for the kind people in this world, whose kindnesses help to overshadow the negative things in life–even in a Costco parking lot.

 

Fast forward three days to the day after Thanksgiving.

The children and I were on our way to the temple’s Visitors’ Center when our truck began making a horrendous grinding sound. I pulled into the turning lane as we approached the temple, with the intent of making it to the Visitors’ Center parking lot where I could safely inspect the vehicle when the passengers in the car next to ours started shouting at us and pointing to the back of the truck.

I shifted the truck into park and walked around to the back where I saw that the spare tire had been jarred loose from its latch. The tire, along with the metal bar it was on, was being dragged across the ground. I bent down to inspect the damage. The massive tire was shredded. It was still attached to the bar, but there was no way I had the strength to remove it and heft it into the bed of the truck. I stood, wondering what my options were when I heard a voice behind me.

“What ya got going on there?” asked a tall African-American guy as he crossed the light rail tracks with a backpack slung over his shoulder.

I explained the situation to him. Without hesitating, he tossed his backpack aside, got down on the ground in the middle of the road, and, with great effort, proceeded to remove the tire from the bar and put it in the bed of the truck. He reattached the bar to the latch and assured me that everything should be good to go now.

“Thank you so much,” I said as I shook his hand. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t offered to help.”

“My pleasure,” he said as he retrieved his backpack, crossed the street, and continued his walk down the sidewalk.

My children and I continued to our destination, feeling more grateful than ever for the kindness of strangers.

 

How has your life been blessed by the kindness of strangers?

 

For ideas on how to create a generous life, visit https://downaspenlane.com/2017/07/28/books-inspire-generous-heart/.

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