In which I depend upon the kindness of strangers

Posted on February 12, 2010


As I write this, I am pleasantly full of lamb curry.  Miss Sadie and the Cowboy are dozing in front of the wall furnace.  I have a glass of a nice red table wine from Spain.  I have a carrot muffin in reserve for my breakfast.  My printer has a fresh toner cartridge.  My bank account is in order.  The Interlochen Public Radio station is playing Ella Fitzgerald recordings.  I cannot imagine how the day could have turned out better.  It did not start out this way.

For too long I had avoided a number of pesky errands.  This happens when a person lives and works in a place that is pretty much 17 miles from anywhere else.  OK, Central Lake is only seven miles from my house, and I go there a lot, but Central Lake can’t be expected to provide everything now, can it?  Today I had to go further afield, all the way to Traverse City.  I took the dogs for company. 

On the way we stopped in Elk Rapids to visit a computer services shop that . . . has closed.  Well.  That was a disappointment.  I went next door to the Elk Rapids Wine Shop and considered the excellent treats, but decided that this was a day for frugality.  I hate those days.  Laura, the owner, was understanding.  They would be open until 6:00.  Perhaps I might stop on the way home.  There was a thought to hold onto.

We went on to the KMart in Acme.  (I know, I know, but they have durable and inexpensive pants, exactly the sort of thing a person needs when a person is given to tromping about in the ditches of Antrim County peering at the flora, the fauna, and the snowpiles.)  A salesclerk accepted a return without complaint, and half an hour later rang up a replacement sale that included jeans a size larger.  She did not comment.  She is a kind person.  I began to feel better.

We went on to the offices of Citizens Bank, which has a branch in Traverse City.  First of all, they had coffee and Valentine cookies.  Delicious Valentine cookies.  I had two.  I was being a pain in the neck, as I had managed to misplace a whole raft of things that I needed, but the teller helped me sort out everything I needed to do.  She is a kind person.  A kind person who has cookies.  I felt even better.

Onward to Staples, that purveyor of all things office-related, where I spent an unconscionable amount on a new toner cartridge for my printer and then discovered that my Rewards card had expired.  Nevertheless, the clerk was very nice about the whole thing and pursued that $10 discount as if it were her own.  Finally she hit a brick wall, but she explained to me what I have to do next.  She is a kind person.  In spite of my frustration, I felt well tended. 

Homeward at last, bearing pants that fit, a tidy check register, a fresh toner cartridge . . . . We made it to Elk Rapids with seconds to spare.  Would the Wine Shop be open?  It would.  Sue Somers was on duty, and she still had a serving of the lamb curry that had so tempted me earlier.  Would there be a modestly priced wine that might accompany the curry?  What kind of wine do I like, she inquired.  Looking around furtively to make sure there was no one else to hear, I said, “Cheap.”  Ah.  Sue Somers is a kind person.  In spite of this being the end of a long day, she directed me to bins of very nice wines at favorable prices, and took the time to tell me about each one, exactly as if I were inquiring about a rare vintage.  I was being a pain in the neck, but she treated me really well.  She even pulled a cunning little net over my very modest purchases.  I came home with two bottles of wine and a delicious lamb curry.  If I had made a phone call and a salad, it would have served for two, but as it was I scarfed the whole thing up myself and drank two glasses of wine.  I am a pain in the neck.

Here’s the thing.  This was the sort of day that could have gone a lot of different ways.  I was in a frame of mind to be a real grouch.  In spite of that, people who had no special reason to be nice to me were nice to me, and that made all the difference. 

As I left the Wine Shop, clutching my supper, I looked west along River Street and saw the most magnificent sunset–one of those liquid ones that seems to be made of clouds melting into a pillar of fire.  I got in the car and drove toward it, hoping to get to a good vantage point in the park before it disappeared.  What was I thinking?  Ah well.  I captured the last bit anyway. 

As the shutter whirred the Cowboy leapt from the car, followed smartly by Miss Sadie.  At least they didn’t eat my supper while I was otherwise occupied, but I had a time of it getting them rounded up.  Thank heavens for the kindness of strangers.  The misdeeds of those closest to us can be exasperating.