Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

  This was the view outside my front door this morning:
Oh, yeah. Spring is here.
My cute tiny house!
  I decided to take my daily walk early, I was so astounded by the white flakiness, and I had Lincoln and myself bundled up and ready to go by 9:30.

  It was a very quick walk, just about five minutes. I just wanted to get a shot of the trees in bloom, covered in snow to put on here.

  This. This is all I wanted.

   Lincoln's blankets were already getting soaked, and I neglected to wear mittens, so we headed home. I walked inside and set down my phone and keys as Lincoln commenced crying. "Oh, he wants to go back outside for a bit!" I thought intelligently, so I grabbed him and headed back outside.

  As soon as I heard the door click, my jaw dropped in horror. As usual, I had automatically locked the door behind me. With my keys and phone on the couch. And snow still falling steadily behind me. And Lincoln crying hysterically in my arms.

  "What have I done?" I whispered to myself over and over. I began laughing as I tried to pry open the downstairs windows with Lincoln still crying in my arms. I think I was in shock. None of the windows budged.

  The one remaining brain cell still working in my head directed my feet to my next door neighbor's house. As I knocked on the door, I remembered that my neighbor is a teacher, and was most likely at work. I waited a minute, and was about to turn away when my neighbor answered the door in her bathrobe.

  After a short explanation, she herded me inside and cuddled with Lincoln while I tried to get my brain to function and figure out a game plan. I couldn't call McKay; I don't know his number by heart. So instead I called my mom (one of the few numbers I have memorized), thinking she could give me McKay's number. She didn't pick up.

  Luckily, my neighbor's brain WAS working, and she called the owner of the house. Who was snowed in. Next we called the landlord managing company. I got voicemail. I left my name and the neighbor's number and tried to emphasize I was locked out with my TWO MONTH OLD son.

  While we waited for them to call back, my neighbor told me about her trouble at work. She's a special ed teacher, and her school district has been hassling her. She's on meds for anxiety because her work is so stressful. She gets home at seven most nights because of all the paper work she has to do, which is why her house was a mess (which I didn't mind--I find messy houses kind of relaxing). She's planning on quitting and moving to Portland with her daughter, but she's worried she won't be able to find work. She had prayed yesterday for a snow day so she could have one day to relax.

  All the things she told me were personal, and it could have been very weird, but I had a feeling she just wanted someone to listen. So I did. When I thanked her for the third time and apologized for bothering her on her day off, she teared up and told me she went into special ed because she loves helping people. "Plus, I got to hold a baby!" she said happily.

  The landlord's secretary called back. She flatly told me they were "in session" until one o'clock (she took pains to tell me she was calling me back on her break), at which time I could drive over and pick up a key. It was currently 10:30.

 "I don't have my keys, I can't drive over." I said, trying not to cry/scream.
 "Well, you'll have to find a ride or something then." She said, heart obviously going out to me and my infant son (not).

  My neighbor then pulled on a penguin/santa hat and a coat and declared she was going to try breaking into my house. Five minutes later, I peered into the back yard and saw she had enlisted another neighbor, who was climbing a ladder to the upstairs window. Which was, mercifully, open. After asking permission, he climbed through the window and had the front door open in about a minute.

  After thanking both neighbors profusely, I stepped back into my warm house. It felt profound somehow. Profound and strange, with new awareness of the people living around me.

Oregonians. . . how you be so nice?


  1. It makes me happy to know you're surrounded by nice people. I genuinely think most people want to reach out & help others (mean secretary excepted here), but lack the knowledge of what to do.

  2. People can be truly awesome. That is why I love Nebraska. I'm glad people could be there for you, I just wish I lived down the street so you could come chill at my house while you waited for McKay