Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

What is the kindest thing someone ever did for you?

What, you say, I can only choose one? And that’s how I felt when someone asked me this very question. I thought about all the things my husband does every day to make life easier, sweeter. Or the many things family members and friends have done when they didn’t have to.

But then I thought about the time, a while ago, when a complete stranger did something for me that I shall never forget.

Stranded at a WDC airport because of weather, a complete stranger let me stay with her at her condo. She took me home ( a lovely condo in Georgetown, BTW), let me sleep in her spare room, gave me everything I needed for the night (this was to be a day trip so I hadn't packed anything), fed me breakfast the next day and got me back to the airport (she was traveling on the same plane). Besides my profuse thanks, I sent her a large plant for her apartment, a basket of fruit and a bouquet of flowers. I didn't know what else to do to thank her for her generosity—and her trust.

She didn't know me (I didn't know her either but I was confident I was a good judge of people) and yet she opened her home to me. She took a chance and saved me from the nightmare of being alone and abandoned in an airport that was shut down for the night--totally shut down. (WDC airport closes at 10 pm for security reasons--and this was prior to 9/11).

Unfortunately, I lost track of her after a time. But I think of her often when I need a reminder of the goodness of ordinary people.

And at every opportunity, I try to live up to her standard.

So let's feel good today. Share a kindness someone did for you--doesn't have to be a stranger--and you'll be entered into a contest for a Wild Rose Press gift certificate (see below).

In my story, Re-ride at the Rodeo, which is part of the just released Return to Wayback anthology along with Payback in Wayback by Lynda Coker and Roped and Tied by Mallary Mitchell, Dusty Morgan does a similar act of kindness for a handsome cowboy she had a brief encounter with the weekend before.

Here’s the excerpt:

“As I said, I need a favor.” He shifted his gaze to stare directly at her as if willing her to grant it.

Looking at that smile, she had to admit she was inclined.

“I scored in the go-round today so I need a place to stay for tonight at least. Annagrace said you had the house to yourself. She thought you wouldn’t mind.”

Dusty’s jaw dropped. She wouldn’t mind? Alone with Clay? Annagrace had gone too far this time. How did she know he wasn’t a rapist or serial killer? All they knew was that he could ride saddle broncs.

As if reading her mind, he continued. “She had me checked out by Andy from the sheriff’s office. Took my license number and called it in. Andy gave me a clean bill. She said she’d tell you that when she phoned. Seeing as how you didn’t get the call, I can understand your reluctance.”

He shot her that sexy grin he’d used before—on her and probably on many others. Her oatmeal insides were becoming more like cream of wheat.

“Look Dusty, I know this is sudden. But I didn’t realize it was Heritage Days or whatever you guys call it. Apparently it pulls in a lot of out-of-towners. All the motels are full up. I didn’t think to make a reservation. Didn’t know I’d score so I’d have to stick around for tomorrow’s round.”

Dusty still couldn’t speak. What could she say? She didn’t want to turn him out with no place to go. She didn’t want him to stay here where the temptation would be way too much.

He draped an arm along the back of the sofa—a strong, solid mass of bulging muscles. The memory of that arm around her, pressing her close to his hard body, had her stomach doing somersaults like it was trying out for the circus.

“Look, I know you don’t know me very well. And I came on a little strong last week. But if it’s just friendship you want, that’s fine with me.”

Somehow she didn’t think it would be fine but, then again, she wasn’t his type.

“I promise I’ll be a perfect gentleman. I can sleep on the sofa, right here. If I can just use your shower—”

Shower? Naked? Her body went into overdrive as an image of his toned, tanned and nude body danced across her mind. She visualized every line, every muscle, and every hard plane. A moist warmth settled between her thighs.

“—to clean up that’s all I need. I even bought some ribs at the Dixie Pig and if you have a grill, I do a mean barbeque. I know it’s an inconvenience, so I’m willing to pay you what I would have paid The Corral.”

Dusty held up a hand. “No need to go that far. I get that you’re desperate. It will be Texas hospitality or nothing.” How could he think she’d charge him if she allowed him to stay? Her reluctance had nothing to do with inconvenience and he knew it.

“And I promise I’ll be a Texas gentleman. Whatever rules you want to impose, I’ll abide by.” He gave her a schoolboy look, the kind of look you’d give the teacher when she’d caught you doing mischief to convince her you were really an angel. But there was nothing angelic about Clay Tanner. He was all sex and sin in one delicious package.

Here’s the blurb for the Return to Wayback anthology:
Payback in Wayback: After spending twelve years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Corey Donovan is headed for Wayback, bent on getting a little payback. Tiffany Covington is both thrilled and afraid when she learns Corey has returned. She’s ready to repay old debts, the question is, will Corey accept her currency of exchange? Roped and Tied: Jericho Farrell left Wayback and Eden Sawyer for a shot at a better life, but now he’s back. Eden has forgiven him for leaving, but will he forgive her when he discovers he’s a father? Re-Ride at the Rodeo: Bronc rider Clay Tanner is looking for a good time. Dusty Morgan looks like she could use one, but she turns him down. Feeling like he’s been bucked off before the eight second buzzer, Clay’s betting he can score if she’ll give him a re-ride. But qualifying may call for more than he’s prepared to give.

Available Now at and on May 15th at The Wild Rose Press Return to Wayback: Three hard-driving men, three different reasons to come back, and three special women who could give them a reason to stay.

So, what was the kindest thing someone (stranger, friend or family) has done for you?

Remember, leave a comment today, the 29th, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $15 gift certificate for The Wild Rose Press (which I'll pick on Thursday, so stop back) and, for those who are participating in A Tisket A Tasket, I’m providing an e-copy of Re-ride at the Rodeo for the Grand Prize Basket.

Tomorrow go to for the final blog in the A Tisket A Tasket Put Romance in Your Basket Contest.


Judy said...

My husband and I had went to see my daughter who was working in Denver at the time. We had stayed a few days and then started home. We were bringing two of the grandchildren back with us. We had car trouble in Kansas, barely got off the side of the interstate. A couple with their son stopped almost immediately. They were local so they knew of a repair shop close. The problem turned out to be minor, but it could have been worse, if they had not stopped immediately and helped. They would not take anything for helping us but our thanks:)

Anne Carrole said...

With two grandchildren in tow, I bet you were relieved!:) Thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

A neighbor,who I did not know well but whose daughter went to chool with my daughter , came by the day after my husband died to ask if I needed a ride to the funeral home to pick out a casket.
No one else in the family remembered I didn't drive and even if I did didn't have the car which had been left at my husband's work place.
A happier experience was receiving the A-Z of regency London in the mail from some one who has never revealed her identity to me.

Anne Carrole said...

Wow, Nancy. What a thoughtful neighbor (and so sorry for your loss) during such a difficult time for you. And as to your secret sender--what a nice surprise. Aren't some people just great!

Penny Rader said...

Gosh, this is so hard because so many people have nice things for me.

In 1987, not long after I first began writing, I attended my first writing conference. (This trip had many firsts -- first time to travel by myself, first time to fly, first time to check myself into a hotel, etc.)

Did I mention that I was a young mother and six weeks away from giving birth to my fourth child? (I thought I had seven weeks to go, but he came early.)

Here I was, at the Dallas airport, dragging this huge suitcase (no wheels) and my tummy out to here, trying to catch a shuttle (again...had never done this before). Thankfully, a shuttle stopped for me.

I was exhausted and took a seat. The young lady in front of me turned around and asked me if I was going to the Romance Writers of America conference. Yup, I sure was. We struck up a friendship and saw each other throughout the conference.

Several conferences later (some of those as roommates) I found out she was the reason the shuttle stop for me. She told the driver I was with her.

We were best friends for many years. Somehow over the past few years we've lost touch. Her name is Jo Morris. I miss you, Jo!

Anne Carrole said...

Penny, how nice that she never mentioned her role in getting the shuttle to stop until much later. Now you have to get on the internet and find Jo Morris! You know she'll love to hear from you!

Kathye Quick said...

I remember bring the the hospital waiting room after my hubsband's surgery and one of the other 'waiters' brought me back a coffee and snack from the hospital coffe shop. I didn't relize how hungry I had been until I took the first bite of the cookie.

It's a mall thing, but I never forgot that and always try to return the favor if I have to wait for a long time and notice other people do also.

Debra St. John said...

Once when I was out of change, and my calling card wouldn't work on a pay phone, a very kind stranger gave me money so I could make a phone call to get a ride home. Not too exciting, I know, but I've always remembered that.

Emma Lai said...

Beautiful post. The most recent kind thing that has happened to me was my stepmother-in-law offered to come by the house when I go into labor and take care of my dogs. I hadn't thought of how they were going to get fed and would have felt horrible if I'd forgotten about them.

M.Flagg said...

Lovely post, Anne. My kindness to share came from a rather reclusive cousin of mine. He rarely visits anybody, yet one particularly awful day, he appeared at my door with a smile on his face and two hours to spare. He hadn't been to my home in many years. We had a chance to talk about our mothers, two sisters who were inseperable. Sometmes even the smallest gesture can touch a person's heart.

Anne Carrole said...

Kathye-it's heartwarming what a thoughtful gesture during difficult times can mean to the person waiting--all the more so because it was someone who didn't know you.

Debra--The idea that someone cared enough to help you when they didn't have to speaks to a generosity of spirit that I'm glad is out there.

Emma--now there's a caring stepmom-in-law! Isn't it amazing though how many things you have to worry about when you have enough on your mind--like giving birth!:) Nice you now have one less thing on the list. Congrats on the impending little one:)

Mickey-thanks for stopping by :). How great he reached out and you could connect with someone who can share those memories with you--that's a very special kindness.

Mary Ricksen said...

I really had to think about this one. I think the kindest thing anyone ever did for me was done by my best friends mother. She knew I had problems at home, and let me stay frequently. But when my parents moved to another country, I did not want to go. I wanted to finish the school year out, I wanted to be with people who cared. There were a lot of kids in my family and I was on the bottom of the list. This wonderful person took me in her home, bought me clothes that didn't make me into a geek, she encouraged and guided me into a more confident place in my own head. I love her till t his day, and my girlfriend, sister, died of brain cancer. How sad. I still keep in touch.


The kindness of strangers, yes that I have encountered but the most kindness I have felt come from my sister. I have had 2 strokes and she has been beside me all the way. I tried to tell her that she doesn't have to be at everything but there she be. I love her.

Anne Carrole said...

Mary--the world is a better place with people like your friend's mother--and a poorer place for the loss of your friend. May every child in need have a friend with a mother like your friend's.

Anne Carrole said...

Loretta--siblings are special. I have a sister like that and my father's brother also was there whenever he needed him which in his later years was a lot. I'm sure there are special halos waiting for them.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I have a couple Wayback titles, Anne, but not this one--yet. You've roped me in! :) The most recent nice thing someone did for me is my sister got free tkts and invited me to go see Vince Gil with her on Thursday night. I'll be going with her and my other sister, and my good friend and neighbor. It's going to be fun! :)

Anonymous said...

My daughter, away at school in Washington DC, was involved in car accident. A complete stranger, walking by at the time, not only saw her off to the hospital but also called us. His first words were, “You don’t know me. I’m calling from DC. Your daughter Tiffiny is fine but she was in a car accident. She asked me to call you. She’s on her way to Georgetown Hospital Emergency room by ambulance. She seems okay but might have a broken hand. If you get a paper and pencil, I will give you all the information.”

He did, hospital phone number, address, where accident occurred, etc. And, of course, in our shock, we never did get his name.

Pat Marinelli

Margaret E Reid said...

During a bad period in my life, I went to Houston to visit my aunt. Ignoring the flood warnings and rain so hard that I could barely see, I stopped at a fast food restaurant so my 2 little children could eat. While waiting in line, a woman struck up a conversation with me. I mentioned how I'd never been on the new toll road. LS short, I followed her, my eyes on her car into Houston to my aunt's exit. Ten minutes later, I-45 was shut down due to water over the road. I never got her name to thank her, but I've tried to repay her kindness to others.

Anne Carrole said...

Stacey--hope you enjoy this Wayback story!And you're going to have a lot of fun on your night out. It's great to have sisters that share.

Anne Carrole said...

Pat--How wonderful that this stranger helped your daughter get the information to the very people she needed most at that time. My eyes welled up just reading your post.

Anne Carrole said...

Margaret--with that type of weather, driving must have been scary. I'd like to believe the good samaritans we never got to thank are getting some type of cosmic benefit like good "karma" from their deeds.

Ann Whitaker said...

Jumping in here late, but the first thing that comes to mind happened about a month ago. I was somewhere in AnnWorld and left my purse in the basket in the parking lot of Target! When I discovered what I'd done, I raced back to the store, but the purse was gone. I checked customer service, fully expecting it not to be there, but it was! Whoever returned it didn't leave a name. I was so happy I wanted to cry with relief.

joanna aislinn said...

We're taught to believe angels come from heaven. It occurred to me the other day that mine came from Florida.

My husband, the heart bypass patient, has been on disability. His childhood friend, Sam (not his real name), recently came to our area to help out family members but ran into difficulty staying there.

Maybe kindness begets kindness. We offered him a place to stay for as long as he needed. This carpenter-who-can't-sit-still very long took over construction of my kitchen, putting up cabinets (which I bought on clearance at a wholesale place), smoothed textured ceilings and did this all for no other reason than he chose to. After much hemming and hawing, he accepted much less than he ever would have taken had he been hired to do the job.