News & Reviews

The Kindness of Strangers

It’s the holidays! A time of year that is fraught with stress, which may allow some of us to lose sight of the kindness of strangers. We’re sharing the times we were met with the kindness of strangers.

The last car I owned was getting pretty old and I had noticed a small crack in my windshield that continued to grow over the course of a few months. When I decided to get it replaced the repair technician stated that the reason that the glass was cracked was due to some rust that had formed on the frame of the car where the glass met the metal of the car. If they were to replace the windshield it wouldn’t come with a guarantee. What was going to be a $200 repair was now going to be a $600 repair. In order to properly fix the windshield, I needed to get the rust sandblasted off the car and a partial paint job to paint the hood of the car from the sandblasting of the rust which would remove the original paint from the car in addition to the new windshield (doesn’t that seem like how all automobile repairs end up?). When I went to pick up my car, the shop buffed my headlight covers, a problem that I’ve had for a long time with that car, a service that normally runs around $80 at my regular automobile shop, for free.


Adult Services Librarian

In September, after a nice ramble at the Forest Preserve, my dog and I returned to my car at twilight. I saw a dozen or more people milling around the cars. Then I noticed MY car window had been smashed in. There was broken safety glass EVERYWHERE, on my front seats, floor mats, and on the pavement. I realized my PURSE had been stolen. MY purse, and everything in it! Five cars had been ransacked, unseen, within 20 minutes. Forest Preserve police took reports, but gave zero chance that any property would be recovered. A middle-aged man showed up with a whisk broom and dust pan, and he helped get the glass off my car seat so I could drive home and start rebuilding my life. Thank you, Mister, for your practical assistance!


Youth Services Librarian

The most frequent act of kindness I have experienced is someone giving up their spot in line at the supermarket checkout so I can go ahead of them. I can’t say that this actually happens frequently; I am trying to extend more acts of kindness myself, in the hope that they will get paid forward. If you want the world to be more kind… be kind.

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Adult Services Librarian

I will never forget many years ago being stuck in the Indianapolis Greyhound station overnight with total strangers. I was just 18 years old coming home from college for winter break. The snow storm was so bad that the bus had to stop until the storm let up.

Bus stations are interesting places, even in mild weather. Everyone seems to have a story, down on their luck, starting over, or just maybe saving a few bucks by riding the “Dirty Dog”. I think each Greyhound I’ve ridden has been a unique experience.

Anyway, from some unknown place the conductors started bringing out cots and we all had to find a spot to spend the night. A mom and her adolescent daughter befriended me because they saw I was a young woman alone with a few men interested in what I was doing. I was so thankful because I was too nervous to fall asleep. We chatted and banded together to make the best of a certainly not ideal situation. I will remember their kindness and friendship to me in that drafty bus station for a long time to come.


Adult Services Librarian

At one point in college, I was having a really sad couple of days. A friend of a friend – someone I knew by name but had never really talked to – saw that I was feeling down and randomly invited me to a get-together he was having with a few other people I definitely didn’t know. It ended up being a very relaxed, comfy evening. We baked cookies, drank milk out of wine glasses just to be silly, and watched a Wes Anderson film. It was goofy and spontaneous and exactly what I needed to distract myself from my real-life troubles. I never talked to those people again after that night, but I’ll always remember their kindness. They allowed a sad, awkward soul to eat half their cookies and cuddle up on their couch, and they never questioned any of it. That’s what hospitality is to me: welcoming a stranger into your life and treating them like they belong!


Youth Services Librarian

Many years ago, I went to a diner for breakfast…(back when you could do such a thing) Upon entering the diner, I realized I only had a few dollars in my pocket. This was before ATM’s, when if you forgot to go to the bank to get cash, you were out of luck. I informed the waitress of my predicament and that I would just have 1 egg on toast and coffee, so I’d still have enough to leave her a tip. Instead, she returned with a platter overflowing with a full breakfast spread…3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, potatoes and toast. I still get misty thinking about it. I thanked her profusely, ate my feast of a breakfast and left her my 4 dollars on the table. I returned back to that diner several times, with money in my pocket, until I finally found her working her shift. I ordered from her, ate my breakfast and left her a $20 tip.


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This is an easy question to answer but a difficult story to tell. Twenty years ago, I was a single mother with three small children. I was working two part-time jobs. Christmas was coming and money was tight. It was hard enough getting food on the table, I couldn’t even think about buying gifts for the kids. They were still little and believed in the magic of the holiday. I feared that this was going to be the year that they were going to learn a difficult truth. One evening about a week before Christmas eve, my doorbell rang. Standing on my front stoop was a woman. She said that she had heard that I was having a tough time this holiday season and wanted to help. She carried in boxes of food and wrapped gifts. I asked how she knew that I was in need, who she was and where did she come from? I was utterly speechless, I just cried and cried. She said that she was “a friend.” When my children saw the food in the pantry and the gifts under the tree they asked “Where did you get this mama?” All I could say was “An angel brought it.” To this day I have no idea who was behind the generous gift but each year since then, I make sure that I help a family in need. Charles Glassman said “Kindness begins with understanding we all struggle.” This is something to keep in mind all the year through. Happy Holidays to all, and thank you to those who make a positive difference in the lives of others.


Adult Services Librarian