Friday, March 1, 2013

The kindness of strangers

This is our new microwave.

After our old one broke last week, I found this on sale for $40. Fits right into the hand-made trolley Don made many years ago.

But an interesting thing happened just after the old microwave broke. A reader named Ken was going to send me $200 for a new microwave.

I don't know Ken, but even if I did I would have had to reject his kind and generous offer. You see, shortly after beginning my column with WND and even before this blog was launched, Don and I decided on a strict "no gift" policy from readers. Sadly, generosity can be misconstrued, and we didn't want any aspersions cast.

This doesn't mean we're ungrateful for the impulse, or that gifts don't unexpectedly come our way. A lovely family sent us $100 over the holidays -- a total out-of-the-blue surprise -- so I took the money and donated it a pastor who oversees our local Second Harvest distribution, a humble and hardworking man who often puts in a lot of his own limited money into the program.

So I tried my best to let Ken down gently when it came to turning down his generosity. And then he told me the most extraordinary story. It was so wonderful that I asked permission to post it here.

Here's Ken's story.

If I may have a few moments I would like to tell you what happened to me long ago and why I made the offer I did.

In the spring of 1965 I was driving through the rain to my girl friend's house. I lived in a rural area and strangers were few. We pretty much knew each other by sight if not by name. I got a flat tire on the passengers side and pulled over to change it. After I had the car jacked up and the tire off, the jack sunk into the mud and the car tipped to the side and I barely jumped clear as it fell on the jack and spare tire I was just about to put on. The nearest farm was over 1/2 mile away and I knew they were not home. I stood there wondering what to do when a stranger pulled up in his pickup. I had never seen him before. Without saying much he got out his jack and jacked up my car so I could get my tire on. I started to pull out my wallet which didn't contain much, but I was going to pay him what I could for helping me. He held up his hand and said, "Oh no. I don't want any money. But when you see someone who needs help, you stop and give them a hand. And when you are done you tell them to do the same when they see someone who needs help and tell them to help whoever they find that needs it."

I promised to do so and he drove away and I never saw him again, nor could I find out who he was. So that is what I do and why. I've done it hundreds of times since and I hope that somewhere it has been a blessing to someone. When I see those stories about angels taking on human form and influencing people I can't say that I believe them. But I can say that I don't not believe them either.--Ken

Whoever this stranger who lent Ken a helping hand might have been, isn't it something that Ken took that impulse of generosity and ran with it his whole life? A true Hebrews 13:2 moment. And now Ken is the angel, passing on this unknown stranger's wonderful legacy.

I wanted to publicly thank Ken -- as well as the other family who donated some of their Christmas bonus to us -- for their kindness, and I urge everyone to follow the impulse of generosity which has so blessed their lives.


  1. A nearly identical thing happened to me many moons ago. I was hauling two horses in an old one axle two horse trailer. In the middle of northern New Mexico - nowhere near a town - I had a blow out on the old trailer.

    Well, I had a spare and a jack. Problem was, I hadn't checked to make sure I could get the jack under the trailer with a flat tire - couldn't jack was too tall.

    So I was scratching my head, wondering what to do with two horses (both were green broke so riding off into the sunset wasn't all that appealing) when an old beat up pickup with two scary looking "biker" types pulled up behind me. I was scared.

    I hate to say it, but I judged them by sight and figured I was going to get robbed. But, instead, they got out of their truck and came over to ask me what was the problem? I explained my jack issue to them. The both grinned and one of them went and got a little floor jack out of the truck, jacked up my trailer and actually put the tire on (over my objections - my young man pride was a bit wounded)

    They refused all offers of payment and took off down the road with no ceremony other than a honk and a wave.

    Boy was I appreciative. I think I would have been in a real bind if they wouldn't have shown up!

  2. It is wonderful to pass it on.

    I had help with a tire once and offered to pay the man and he basically said the say thing. Help the next person who needs help.

  3. Yeah for Ken! That is the kind of country I live in not the one we often see on the news. Fellow Americans helping each other. I travel far and wide in this country and I rarely (almost never) see "bad" people or bad acts. I see good people of all ages, backgrounds and races who are the salt of the earth. I am with you Ken, pay it for forward.

  4. Paying it forward is a gift from the heart, an act of kindness.

    Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward."

  5. Love stories like this. Its people like Ken that have made this country great. Watching the movie was fun but meeting people who live it is so much better. Thanks to Ken, and thanks to you for sharing the story.

  6. That makes me so happy! Thanks Ken for your kindness and thank you Patrice for sharing his story with us!

  7. Don't throw out your old microwave. May sound a bit out there but they protect anything inside from e.m.p pulses . I have one in the barn with an old cell phone, an electronic ignition for my 68 dodge, and tractor. Never hurts to prepare. Just put some stuff in there and forget about it. Hopefully you'll never need!

  8. I just had my experience , I believe with angels unaware. It was this week, I was on my way to pick up my daughter from school. She goes to a school some ways away.

    My fairly new truck had a fuel problem with water. It stumbled and died on a hill. I was out of range for AAA call , with my cell. I had to start walking to town 5 miles away. I am disabled vet with chronic bronchiolotis. I made it slowly about a mile , and was out of breath . When a young man picked me up. I was taken to town , and got fuel stabilizer . The truck ran , and the young man followed me back to the garage where they fixed my contamination problem.

    The young man claimed he lived at certain house , yet
    I have to see him there.

    I know I got help when I needed it .

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. F**K Heidi and the Horse she rode in on...

  11. I had an angel experience as well...My mom, BFF and I were on a day trip to New Orleans, probably early 2000s. We ran over something on the highway, just inside city limits, and had to exit off on a ramp that went into a less desirable part of town. We got off the interstate and halfway down the ramp when we stopped. My bff and I got out. We are two capable white women who have changed many a tire in our day. We worked and worked and could not get the tire lug nuts broke free, and didn't have a very good tire iron to boot. As we were contemplating one of us having to walk down the ramp to find help and the other staying with my mother, this delapitated old shag van pulled up. Out disembarked these two HUGE black men, all scruffy looking. After telling our tale, they set about getting our lug nuts broke free and our tire changed. They told us about a auto parts store (so we could buy a new tire iron that worked) right off the highway, would not accept any money, and one (the biggest scruffyist one) said he hoped someone would stop and help his wife if she needed it. They certainly were angels in disguise for us that day.