the repeated kindness of strangers

Two days ago, Grace and I finally prodded out inert bodies to go to the gym. It is only three blocks from her house (and my squatting residence), but like most Chicago nights, it was very cold and very dark- though I suppose that it a natural part of nighttime in most places.

I live a hard, hard life.

Anyway, when we finally arrive at the gym five minutes later, I realize I have forgotten any sort of bottoms to work out in…though I am proud of myself for remembering my headphones, sneakers and clean underwear. In the middle of cursing to Grace about my own stupidity and resigning myself to go back into the cold, a woman in the locker room offers me her shorts.

“I know this might be weird, but I have an extra pair of gym shorts that I did not wear. Do you want to use them?”

“Oh my god, yes.”

“Sorry if this is creepy, me butting into your conversations”

“No, this is amazing. Thank you so much.”

Then she let another woman know she had dropped her phone.


The following day, I got arrived at the train station, only to discover I did not have my wallet. I was already running late for an interview and did not have time to go back. Once again frustrated with myself, I called to the CTA man, “I forgot my wallet!” I was about to stare him down (which, thinking back, is not the best method of inspiring charity), when a man immediately handed over his card. I swiped myself through with a flurry of “thank you’s” and turned around to return the card to him.  He told me to keep it. Though it had only one more dollar on it, that and a little more kindness got me through a return trip.

Sometimes, stupid strangers conspire to shatter your hard-won cynicism about this capitalistic society. These two individuals did something  unselfishly nice that I could not help but feel something is going right in this country. I guess god bless Americans.

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