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38 Years Later, The Kindness of a Stranger Still Resonates


In March I met with Rebecca J. who told me about a trip she took to a department store 38 years ago. There she found a book she begged her mother to buy. This is the story of how she came to own that book, which she still keeps in her home nearly four decades later.


We went to Boston maybe every couple of years and we went shopping in downtown crossing, and I found this poetry book and I wanted to show her that I was very interested in this book, but I was too afraid to ask for something. So I followed my mother around reading, reading and she was finally like “Would you put that book back!” So she made me put the book back. And I don’t remember anything else, until walking out the door – it was a blur – some guy in a suit and like a big overcoat. You know, to me a suit and an overcoat were kind of fancy because my dad was a boiler worker – there were no ties or anything. And he threw something in my hand and he just went out the door. And it was a bag and it was a poetry book – I always tear up at this, I don’t know why – and he bought it for me. You know, it’s kind of a small thing, a 99-cent book but it stuck with me forever, and that inspired me to do small things. You’re in terrible situations all the time. You know, I’ve stood by my car with my hood up broken down on 95, and cars whiz by you and it’s really horrible Now, stopping for somebody seems like the natural thing for me to do. You know, there’s that today you tomorrow me kind of thing, but it’s more than just that. It’s – I don’t know – I guess…I guess, I’m trying to be that guy, you know, from 38 years ago. 


  1. katievonblondie reblogged this from nprfreshair and added:
    BRB crying because I’m a big sap and this is wonderful.
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    Love random acts of kindness. They’re so much more meaningful than the planned ones that seem so forced, that my friends...
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    I finally got around to listening to this and now I’m crying at my desk.
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