|The camera case with wanderlust|
I had planned to upload my photos from the day before to my computer, choose one for my daily Facebook post celebrating the road trip we were on—and the camera was not where I expected it to be. I checked the room without success. I thought about when I had last used it (taking a picture of the bridge over the Hudson River we’d crossed) and what I had done with the camera (zipped it into a soft case, which I’d shoved into an outside pouch on my knapsack).
Conclusion: when I brought the knapsack inside the motel the previous night, I must have tipped the camera case out.
I checked outside around the car. I checked under the car. I checked inside the car. I rechecked the hotel room. Nada.
With the almost certain knowledge I had lost my small camera (I still had the big one safely stored in a camera backpack) I trooped down to the hotel front desk and enquired whether anyone turned in a lost camera. Indeed someone had, and once I told the clerk the make of the camera, it and I were reunited.
All because of the kindness of a stranger.
Normally when I use this camera, I attach its case to my belt. Normally does not mean always, and on this road trip I had misplaced my small camera once before. That time I laid it down next to me on the boat trip to visit the Northern Gannet colony on Bonaventure Island, which is off the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. When I got up, I didn’t check around me.
A younger man saw me leave the camera and brought it to me. Again, the kindness of a stranger. I was able to personally thank that young man, but only through this blog can I thank the person who found and turned in my camera in Utica.
Although my camera loss and recovery occurred during summer, for reasons not clear to me, that experience got me thinking about an act of kindness I received during winter. Six miles from home and about three miles from the nearest habitation, I skidded off the road with sufficient speed that I crested the snowbank. Two of my wheels retained contact with the snow. The other two were up in the air. When I tried to back out (four-wheel drive can solve anything, right?), I proceeded to spin the wheels and turtle my Ford Expedition so that none of the wheels had traction. A logging truck passed by. The driver saw me shoveling the snow from under my vehicle to attempt to regain traction. He backed up and, using my chain, pulled me out of the snowbank.
Innumerable strangers have given me directions over the years. Some of them have physically led me to where I needed to go because the directions were complicated.
In an act of kindness with long-term career effects, a professor on the Boston University selection MBA selection committee convinced the rest of the committee to ignore a technicality that would have voided my application. Without his intervention I would not have been able to go back to BU and complete my MBA. As it turned out, I later took a course taught by this professor. He recognized my name and told me the story.
I could go on (and on), but instead, I’d be interesting in hearing your stories about how a stranger’s kindness helped you.
[This post originally appeared on Writers Who Kill 13 July 2014]