Earlier this week, I came home to an envelope in my mailbox with just, “Rachel (?)” written on the outside. No address, no stamp… this envelope had clearly been delivered by hand. Given that my name is not, in fact, Rachel, I first wondered if it was even meant for me. Then I had a brief flash of, “omg what if it’s anthrax or a bomb or something I haven’t even heard of yet?!” And then it hit me… surely this must be a thank you note from my neighbor regarding last week’s “incident.”
You see, about a week prior, I had a visit from my elderly neighbor (who I had never met before). As soon as I opened my door, this woman told me she needed to go to the hospital and basically barged into my house and plopped herself down on my sofa. To keep a long story short, I called the ambulance for her, made her comfortable and did my best to keep her calm, made space in my living room for a bunch of paramedics to come inside, and got myself ready to go to the hospital with her (I mean, I wasn’t going to let her go alone). While we waited, I found out her name was Betty, and she told me how cute my house was. Soon everyone shows up (and I mean EVERYONE… a firetruck, an ambulance, and a police car). As I’m trying to stay out of the way while six (VERY ATTRACTIVE) firemen/ paramedics fill up my living room, another woman shows up in my doorway. This woman, I find out, was Betty’s daughter who had just gotten home from work and saw the scene unfolding across the street. Turns out, Betty has dementia and wants to go to the hospital every single day. Physically, she was and is fine. No hospital visit necessary.
Both Betty and her daughter (and four of the six very attractive paramedics) apologized to me over and over. I tell them no apologies are necessary, and I mean it– I’m glad it was me who answered the door when Betty knocked, and that she didn’t get further down the street, or lost, or cold, or any number of other things.
Rachel’s Thank You Note
Back to the note for “Rachel (?)” in my mailbox, which I now felt safe to open… I was correct. It was indeed a thank note from Betty’s daughter. It read:
Rachel– Thank you again for your help — and your house! I truly appreciate your kindness. Sincerely, your neighbor (and her name, which of course I won’t be sharing with you).
This note was so sweet and unexpected, and brought a genuine smile to my lips and my heart. So she didn’t remember my name, no big deal. I mean, there was kind of a lot going on during those twenty minutes she stood in my living room, patiently explaining to her mother, who was becoming more and more ornery by the minute, that her doctor doesn’t want her going to the hospital every day. This woman clearly has a lot on her plate and still she took the time to leave me a sweet thank you note.
Included in the sweet note was a gift card to Starbucks. Something I very much appreciate, as I spend A LOT of time at Starbucks. In fact, I’m at my favorite Starbucks now, writing this post. (Note- this post is not sponsored by Starbucks.) (Another note- Starbucks, if you’re reading this and would like to sponsor my blog, let’s talk. I’ll make ya a sweet deal.)
But I say all this to say– she didn’t have to buy a Starbucks gift card for me, write a note, and leave it in my mailbox. Just like I didn’t have to answer my door when her mother knocked, I didn’t have to let her in, and I didn’t have to plan on accompanying her to the hospital. We didn’t know each other and had no obligation to help each other. But I did, and she did, and both of us were left feeling just a little bit better about humankind because of it.
Want to be a part of the kindness of strangers chain? You should. It has some pretty amazing reciprocal benefits.
Here’s five ideas to get you started:
1. leave a scarf, hat, or other cold-weather clothing essential in an area where you often see homeless people
2. leave a server an extra big tip
3. help someone who is struggling to carry something/ get through a door… and then say something really nice to them too
4. buy a round for a stranger at the bar… anonymously.
5. pay the check for someone else’s meal at a restaurant, again, anonymously
What other ideas for kindness do you have? Tell me below in the comments… you might inspire someone else too!