Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Remember how I said no more heartwarming stories? I lied--UPDATED (at the end)

Cause this one really is good.

I was trekking home tonight after winding up all that last minute stuff at the office. One stop at the post office to mail Christmas cards; one stop at Home Depot, cause it really isn't Christmas without some do-it-yourself plumbing repair.

The line at the post office windows wasn't too bad, but I had cash and I only needed stamps. I shoved a twenty in the machine, tapped C4 for 40 first class stamps, then did it again. The change clinked and the stamps dropped.

Trouble was, the door to the stamp drop wouldn't open. I pushed. I wiggled it. I shoved my hand in as far as I could, then pulled it out and sprayed it with WD40 and tried again (hey, this is NYC, of course I carry WD-40 with me at all times).

I wished I had a hat pin or a knitting needle, but no such luck. By this time I'm annoyed as hell, sopping wet cause I'm wearing my tundra weather jacket inside and frustrated, snarly and mean. (Well, ok, I'm always that way, but this time, more.)

I start looking for a post office person for help. None to be found of course.

I go stand in line the shortest line; the one that doesn't take packages. Some twit is worried about mailing post cards to Andorra. I'm ready to give her a FedEx envelope and pay the freight just to get her out of here.

Just as I'm about ready to blow a gasket, I see an elderly man dressed in a long black coat and a fedora step up to the machine I'd just used. He pushes in a bill, punches two numbers, and I know he hears the stamps drop.

I then watch him do exactly what I did. Push, pull, wiggle.

Then, he does what I didn't do. He appears to get stamps!

I race over. I say "Did you get your stamps?"
He looks at me, with alarm (no wonder that, I look like a crazy person!)
He says, rather hesitantly, "Yeeees."

I say "How did you do that??"
"I just pushed on the door really hard"

"Oh," I say, and turn to the machine.
I bend over and sock the door with a mighty fist.
It surrenders.
I scoop up 80 stamps.

80 stamps that were still there.

This gentleman had not taken them.
As good as cash, untraceable. Useful.
He'd left them there.

I looked up at him and said "you didn't take them"

He looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said "I only took the ones I bought."

Well, what can you say to that?

Only this:
Thank you very much, and Happy Christmas.

I was zooming around my favorite blogs today and came across this at Murderati. Toni, you totally rock.


BJ said...

You know, I've been to NYC twice, and while I've met a few rude folks, I've met far more nice people. Like the time my friend was having some problems with her asthma, this lovely Asian lady stopped to give her a recipe for a honey drink that might help. Or when I had a coughing fit at the Seaport, one lady offered me a lozenge, and one saleswoman gave me a glass of water.

And absolutely everyone I've met at St. Mark's Place is friendlier than many Canadians.

Sometimes it seems like you can't trust anyone, but really, there are more honest people in the world than the other kind. We just pay more attention to the others.

Merry Christmas!

moonrat said...

the thing is... in the end, most people are better and more generous than we can ever imagine ourselves to be.

(only we probably would be, if the situation arose.)

i know. when i'm reminded of this, i'm always surprised. but really, i don't know why.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

I just flat-out love this story.


Mags said...

I wanted Smart Food tonight, but when I got to the vending machine at work, I discovered a bag of Freetos teetering against the glass, the bag's edge caught on the coil.

Ha! Freetos is was for me, 'cos of how there'd be free, not-at-all-paid-for bonus chips for dinner. I put my dollar in and the coil went around, and the caught bag fell as my paid-for bag got caught in exactly the same spot.

Freetos are not as delicious as Smart Food. I lose.

I bet that man always gets just the chips he wants for dinner, too. He should.

(Hmm... my word varification word is "sneut." That's a good word. It should be a real word.)

~PakKaramu~ said...

Happy new year to you

Julie Weathers said...

Janet, I've found people can be awesome. It usually happens just as you swear you are giving up on them.

Your Marine story reminded me of a Christmas when a cowboy Santa came to visit us.

Sometimes life is very good.

JES said...

Given the way you were dressed, I'm so happy this account contained no puns on the order of "stamping my feet."

But aw, man, I do love this story.

Thanks, Janet. Hope you have a great couple of^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H day!

AC said...

I loved this story. And I, too, think New Yorkers are really nice. I've only been once, and coming from the South, I (erroneously) figured they wouldn't be as nice as people from my hometown...but they were!

ICQB said...

"So shines a good deed in a weary world."

Margaret Yang said...

Janet, you lied! I always knew you were a liar.

Just kidding. Great story.

Happy New Year (the holiday I celebrate) and all your holidays too.

Steve Stubbs said...

Great stpry. The thing that warmed my heart the most is that New Yorkers carry WD40 now.

When I lived there they carried pepper spray and Tasers, strapped to the back of an enormous dog.

Working people carried chains and tire irons.

The last time I was there I saw women walking their dogs alone at 3 A.M. and these were not 300 pound pit bulls wearing dog training school black belts the way they were in the good old days. They were poodles.

Times have changed and changed for the better.

But the most amazing part was that anyone would mail Christmas cards two days before Christmas and expect them to arrive in Andorra by Christmas Eve. That is either heart warming or bewildering.

I am still trying to figure out which.

ryan field said...

Great Story, and it balances out the nasty bus driver who cursed me for parking for one second in front of my brother's building to drop a gift off for the doorman.

Bobbie said...

I teared up at that one and it wasn't even sappy. Maybe I just have "It's a Wonderful Life" playing through my head over and over and I'm imagining the ghost of Jimmy Stewart hanging out with Janet Reid at the post office. God bless plain old decent people. They're what keep me going some days.

Merry Christmas!

PammyD said...

Janet -

Happy Holidays!

Yes Toni does rock!

Okay - so yesterday (Tuesday) was supposed to be Holiday Shopping Day. (Yes, I'm running a little late.)

I get emergency phone calls along the lines of, 'I can't turn my head,' and 'I have lumps the size of muffins in my neck', and 'that 22 bullet that's lodged in my brain is shifting again'. No shopping for me. Just work.

I'm on my way to my last appointment. I'm cold, I'm out of gas, I'm in the Valley. I give the gas station dude a $20 bill. I fill up the tank. It comes to $17. 88. I am floored. Six months ago - it was around $40 to fill my tank. I go get my refund. Spin the car around, 'cause I'm running late for last appointment and try to ease onto Ventura Blvd. without being killed. When a guy in a truck pulls up next to me and motions for me to roll down my window. I do this at my own peril.

He says, "Um. Your gas cap is hanging from your car. I'm going to put it back on for you. Merry Christmas."

Some people are actually nice this time of year.

Happy and Safe to everyone,

Pammy D

Crimogenic said...

This story partly lessens my fear of New Yorkers.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Miss Janet. Hope Santa brings you something nice.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

When I was a teen living in Spain, I got top marks in school and won a trip to Andorra. They decided they couldn't afford it and changed their minds. By the end of the dickering, I got a day off and nine bucks.

I wish I could mail myself there.

The story reminds me of 'What goes around, comes around.' If I ever discover I was undercharged for an item, I'll point it out to the clerk.

I've never been to New York but my daughter went as part of a school trip. Someday, when I gets myself a publisher, we can go together.

Merry Christmas, Janet! You never fail to lighten my day, no matter how bad things get.

The Anti-Wife said...

Merry Christmas!

Jay said...

I had surgery two weeks ago. Last Friday and Saturday we here in the northeast got blasted with snow. My brother did his best to shovel me out, but snow kept falling. Around 10 am Sat. I look outside and my neighbor, who I don't know, is using his snowblower to clear the end of our driveway. I am still physically incapable of doing any bending and lifting, especially shoveling, and his kindness did allow me to go to work Saturday night.

Joyce said...

Great story, Janet.

Toni's blog posts always rock! If you haven't read the one she did back on Mother's Day, it's definitely worth going back to read it.

Merry Christmas!

Suzanne said...

Janet, I hope your Christmas and New Years will be filled with lots of heartwarming experiences like this one!

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Okay, off topic...

I joined TWITTER - and I haven't the foggyest how it works.

I did "follow" Janet Reid, whatever that means. So far we've gone nowhere! (At least she hasn't gotten me into knock-down-drag-outs with NY City night people... yet)!

Twitter name: (is that important)?

I waited for friends to show up... nothin' happened. That's when it reminded me of fishin.' Lots of down time there too. (or I don't have friends. My Momma said she loved me, but she died long ago)!

Haste yee back ;-)

BJ said...

I didn't know Janet was on Twitter - I'm now following her, too. And, because I'm new to Twitter and gathering friends like you are, I'm following you, too, Mr. H.Y. Back. Now, entertain me... :)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

BJ...entertain? WOW! Okay, It'll suck but here goes...

Tunka Nunkle never ever changed his socks.
So, the Mean Green People stuffed him in a box.
Night and day Tunka lived in the box.
And in no time at all, he'd grown wild, unruly locks.
One day, Unka Tunkle, big and ugly as an Ox, came upon poor Tunka Nunkle's box.
"Tunka," Unka said. "May I live with you? I'm all alone.
I have no home. I think your box would do.
Besides, Tunka, no one likes either of us, they just complain or raise a fuss.
So, Unka Tunkle climbed into Tunka Nunkle's box and neither care about worn out socks, or unruly locks, or being big and ugly as an Ox.
But, you remember those troublesome sorts - the Mean Green People covered with warts?
At Tunka and Unka they grumped and groaned...

And then the shit really hit the fan!

Haste yee back ;-)

laughingwolf said...

see, we old farts are still good... for something ;) lol

glad you were successful, janet :D

season's blessings to you and yours