(Shamelessly snagged from Leonard Peltier’s page from his poem “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” from his book Prison Writings)
I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a long time ago. She was a survivor of the Nose’s class; in fact, that’s where we met. She was one of those clever but clueless folks I really dig. She was late; she was always late, and, oddly enough, it was probably one of the reasons I dig her so much. In some ways, she’s very much like me.
She apologized for being late for our lunch, and told me she had stopped to get gas. While there, she had seen an RV that said “Need Gas Money” on a piece of cardboard in the window. She talked to them, found out their story, where they were headed. Finding out they had something like a 75 gallon tank, she told them that she could only afford to fill half of it. As they talk, the gas pump shows it’s over 40 gallons, and she tells them to fill it up all the way. After finding out they hadn’t eaten in three days, she bought them food and water from the gas station, enough to cover them for a couple of days, anyway.
She tells me this, not to convince me how cool she was, or how much money she had available on her Visa (Visa..pfft), but to tell me why she did it.
Apparently, earlier that day, she had parked next to a car that had a bumper sticker on it: Perform Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.” A second bumper sticker was next to it: “All acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.”
She saw the stranded people, and she remembered the car from school.
And everything was irrelevant but the connection. It didn’t matter who drove the bumpered-stickered car, or if he or she was a hypocrite. They carried a message which was received. It didn’t matter if the people stranded were miscreants or scam artists, because the act was performed.
In the end, everyone involved was merely vessels. The messenger and the messaged, the giver and recipient, merely vessels. That was a very powerful lesson for me.
I had a segue between that section and the next, and I lost it, so here’s the point of this entire post.
I’ve received a random act of kindness. A huge one, as far as I’m concerned.
I received an anonymous money order. It was addressed to me (and not c/o the Fool or anything like that) to my parents’ address, which is my mailing address. There was neither a return address on the envelope nor a letter inside.
And it was for a significant amount of money. Not enough to retire, mind you. But oddly enough, it was enough to cover my books for this semester. My books have never been this inexpensive, about 1/2 my typical amount.
And I received enough money — ANONYMOUSLY — to pay for them. I thought it a very nice and timely “coincidence.”
I verified that it was a real money order and in doing so ruined the anonymity of it, sadly. I wanted to thank them, but wanted to respect their anonymity, too. They obviously went to effort (so far as to have someone else fill out the money order with my name) to remain anonymous, and I hated to spoil that.
But, having worked for American Express, I’ve seen of scams with travelers’ cheques and money orders in which someone will send one to be cashed. When it’s presented for payment, the teller will write down the driver’s license number, dob, etc.. What may have been a $100 money order could cost the cash-er boucoup money in return fees when the purchaser reports it as stolen. The purchaser then has access to the driver’s license, dob, etc of the person who cashed it, and, this is oftentimes enough to perform identity fraud.
I did get to thank them, though. I was floored, and told them that I’d never had a fairy godmother before.
They both laughed and said that they had always believed in me.
And I was floored again.
Now, the amount of money was significant, but in truth, I can’t get over the fact that someone would do that for me, regardless of the amount.
2008 is definitely shaping up to be an interesting year.