Joan D'Arc's post about Honorable Civilians reminds me of a great story. A week or so before September 11, I ordered my husband a large-screen television for his birthday/early Christmas present. The television was due to arrive several days after 9/11, but it arrived early. I was at home and received a phone call stating that the television had arrived. I mumbled a fib to my husband and left to pick it up.
The television was quite large, and the box was enormous. There was absolutely no way the box was going to fit in my car, and my husband's car was even smaller. I asked the guys who were trying to load it, to take the television out of the box. Still didn't fit. We kept trying to cram it in. The scene was something akin to the scene in Cinderella where the evil step-sisters were trying desperately to fit their clunky feet into Cinderella's glass slipper.
All the while, an older woman was parked in front of me in the loading zone, quietly observing the hoopla. She approached and listened to my conversation with the employees of the store, who told me that I might want to go to Home Depot and rent a truck.
I was clearly exasperated. I wanted to get the television home and give it to my husband, even if it wasn't yet his birthday. We had just moved to Washington two months before and I didn't know anyone with a truck. "Okay" I said, "I'll go rent a truck."
Then, the woman spoke up.
"Honey, where do you live?"
"Oh, um, about five miles down the road."
"You just wait right here for my husband. He's going to help you with this"
"How so", I thought, then I thanked her but insisted that I would rent the truck. She wouldn't hear of it. We chatted for a while and I told her the television was a surprise gift for my husband. Finally, her husband came out of the store.
"Fred, those boys were trying to get this nice young lady to rent a truck and carry that TV home. She tried and it ain't going in her car. She lives in ______"
Fred looked at the television, now sitting on a cart, and glanced at his truck. "Yep, we can sure fit it in."
A few minutes later, an appliance was loaded in Fred's truck and then my television was placed in front of it.
The couple then began to follow me home. Oops, I had better warn my husband. The surprise was not going as I had planned, but, oh well...
I phoned my husband.
"Um, er, well, okay - here's the deal, the phone call I got before I left was someone telling me that your birthday present was here...
"Did you buy me a television?"
"How did you know?"
"I just did."
"Okay, we'll deal with that later. Anyway, I need you to open the garage door and put your shoes on. I couldn't fit the television in the car and a nice old couple has it on their truck and they are following me home."
"Oops, he didn't make the light."
"Andi, let me get this straight. You just bought a brand new television and you loaded it onto the truck of a complete stranger, and now he's not behind you?"
"Well, yes, but they're a nice old couple and the lady didn't want me to rent a truck and I objected and she said they lived close-by anyway and..."
"This IS a joke, right?"
"I didn't think so.. Where are they now, do you see them?"
"Yes, yes, I pulled over and now they're behind me again."
We drive up to the house. My husband and Fred, who was strong as a horse despite his age, unload the television. Meanwhile, I'm speaking to Fred's wife, whose name I cannot remember. I am thanking her profusely for her kindness and offering to pay for the "delivery." She protested and then I found out what sparked her to befriend me.
"I saw the sticker on your car. You husband is in the military, isn't he?"
"Yes ma'am, Army"
This lady went on to express how September 11, which had happened only five days prior, so deeply affected her. She felt that we should all help one another in any way that we can during "times like these." Buildings were still smoldering when this woman reached out to me. I bet she knew something I wasn't certain of at the time. I'll bet she had knew that my husband would someday be deployed, and this was one way she could thank him.
I hope this lady always remembers her random act of kindness, I know I'll never forget it. Neither will my husband (who later delivered a lecture to me about never handing over expensive property to strangers). Ah well, it worked out, and we laugh about it now. We're also reminded that good people do exist. People like Fred and his wife are the kind of people who make our country worth fighting for.
So yes, occasionally we have a laugh at the expense of civilians here at SpouseBUZZ, but we also know that there is reason to praise them too.