Tag Archives: kindness of strangers

French Fries

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We were four dirty traveling kids heading from Santa Nella, CA to Oklahoma City, OK. They were a Native American family; I don’t know where they were coming from or where they were headed. We met one night at a McDonald’s on Indian Land in New Mexico.

I was with Mr. Carolina, The Okie, and Lil C. Mr. Carolina had met the two young men at a truck stop in Santa Nella. They’d gotten stuck at the truck stop when the cheap bicycles they’d bought to travel across California began to fall apart. They were trying to get to Oklahoma City, then on to Kansas City, MO in time to see Lil C’s mom on her birthday. I’d agreed to rescue them from their truck stop purgatory, but the four of us traveled together through seven states before our time as companions was over.

Mr. Carolina and I had stopped at the same McDonald’s right off I-40 late one night on our way to California. We’d been with Sweet L and Robbie and the couple who had whisper fights several times a day. We’d taken that particular exit because the atlas showed a rest area there. We found the rest area, but a locked gate kept us out. We were all tired, so I pulled the van into the parking lot of the 24-hour gas station/convenience store/fast food emporium. The kids melted into the darkness to find bushes to sleep under, and I spent an uninterrupted night in my van.

Now we were back at that McDonald’s off the 40. The gate to the rest area was still locked, but more than a month later, the late autumn air was quite cooler. We’d all be sleeping in my van tonight, me in my bed; Mr. Carolina on the floor between the back passenger seats, his feet brushing the doghouse in the front; The Okie in one of the back passenger seats; and Lil C in the front passenger seat. It was crowded (more for the boys than for me), but it was worth it for everyone to stay warm.

Before we slept, we went into McDonald’s.

We had a few bucks, enough for each of us to get a McDouble, which only cost a dollar at the time. I don’t remember if we discussed French fries, if one of the boys asked for fries and I had to say we couldn’t afford them or if I silently longed for their greasy saltiness. I envied the other people in the restaurant who had fries, but I didn’t complain about what we lacked. The Universe gave us what we needed, and if The Universe wasn’t offering fries this night, we must not need them.

After being handed our tray of food, the boys and I sat at a table in the middle of the dining room. Our last bath had happened at least a week before, a soapless affair in a natural hot spring. We certainly didn’t look clean. We were probably a little too loud, a little too boisterous, but I tried to keep all of our cursing to a minimum. Even trying our best to appear normal, I’m sure we stuck out.

The Native American family sat one table closer to the counter. They were quiet and conservatively dressed. Maybe they were from Acoma Pueblo. Maybe they were Diné. The adults (parents? grandparents?) were probably in their early 50s; the two boys with them looked to be young teenagers. Each of them had a wrapped sandwich and in the middle of the table sat two large cartons of French fries.

The woman spoke softly to the boys. I wouldn’t have known she was speaking if I hadn’t seen her lips move. One of the boys nodded, picked up one of the cartons of fries, stood up, and carried the potatoes over to our table. His family wanted us to have these, he told us quietly as he gently placed the fries on the tray that still sat in the middle of our table.

We were joyously rambunctious with our thanks. Those French fries made us the happiest people in the room.

I manifested those fries! I thought. The Universe sent them to us because I wanted them so badly!

If the potatoes were a gift from The Universe, it was working through a kind woman who decided to share her family’s small abundance with four dirty traveling kids who couldn’t scrape together even a dollar to buy their own small bag of fries.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-wood-pattern-lunch-141787/.

Kindness of Strangers

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I was driving in Las Vegas, NV on my way to the Goodwill Clearance Center in North Las Vegas. As I approached a traffic signal, I could tell there was a problem. The light was green, but the traffic was not flowing.

The car in my lane that should have rolled when the light turned green was not moving. The pickup truck second in line zipped into the left lane and zoomed away. I didn’t have time to follow the truck before other cars were blocking my entrance into the left lane. I had to stop behind the stalled car. The light turned red again, and cars stopped in the left lane.

A man got out of the car at the front of the left lane line. I’m going to help you, bro, he called out to the guy blocking the right lane.

I ran out of gas, the man in the stalled vehicle said.

I’m going to pull into the gas station across the street, the good Samaritan said. Then I’ll come back over and help you.

At first I thought the men probably knew each other. I figured a dude saw his homie in trouble and stopped to help him. However, as I stayed stuck behind the stopped car through several light changes, I wasn’t so sure. When the helpful man trotted over from the gas station, the men didn’t embrace or shake hands or chitchat or ask about each other’s mammas. Neither man indicated in any way that they were friends or even friendly. They just got to work figuring out how to move the car across the street to the gas station.

I was touched when I thought the one guy had stopped to help his friend, but I teared up when I realized the guy had stopped to help a stranger. Sometimes we think only people in small towns will help people they don’t know. It’s good to remember that people in big cities help each other too.

Sometimes strangers are kind. Sometimes we are a beautiful species.