on the kindness of strangers

Just when I start to think all the world has gone to hades in a hand basket, a kind and honest stranger reminds me that good people still exist. And they shop at my favorite southern grocery store, Publix.

I’ll start by saying that I’m a firm believer in karma. So if I find a wallet or discarded ID somewhere, I turn it in. If a server returns too much change, I give it back. I open doors as often as possible, and offer help when someone looks like they could use an extra hand. In short: I try to always treat others the way I’d like to be treated. And I hold out a glimmer of hope that, should I be in a situation that requires an ethical decision from a stranger, they live by the same credo.

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, which seems to have put me in some kind of faulty auto-pilot that makes me do ridiculous, flighty things I’d never ordinarily do. Like leave my handbag in the front of the cart at the grocery store. In the parking lot. Then drive away…

I did this for the first time (EVER) the weekend we moved the shop about four weeks ago. I took a break from unpacking to take a Staples trip to pick up a wireless router while the cable guy installed our network. I drove back to the shop and unloaded the car before I realized something important was missing. I rushed back to the store, but my MK clutch and its contents were never seen again. Fortunately, all they got away with was $60 in cash, a Wal-Mart wallet, my favorite lip gloss, and a few immediately-cancelled credit cards. It still felt terrible.

Today, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate our new location with the local Chamber of Commerce. My first stop was the grocery store to pick up refreshments (read: prosecco, beer, and cupcakes) and, while my body was in the grocery store taking care of this errand, my mind was three steps ahead in my to-do list. So after I loaded the car, drove across town, and arrived at my second stop, I realized I’d done it again. The second time in a month. Are you effing kidding me? But this time, I was carrying my beloved aqua leather Dooney & Bourke satchel — a very special gift from my mom — and it was filled with my brand new cell phone, our corporate card, my newly replaced driver’s license and debit card, and a handful important receipts, among other things. My heart dropped into my stomach, I started shaking like a leaf, and I cursed myself for being so irresponsible. {“How am I going to tell my husband that I did this again?“}

White knuckled, I drove like Cruella Deville back to the grocery store, jumped out of the car and quickly scanned the parking lot. An employee was collecting all of the carts and pushing them back into the store, but no sign of my bag. I recognized a store manager, approached her, and on the verge of tears managed to stammer out, “umm, has anyone turned in a blue leather handbag in the last five minutes?” I was prepared for the worst. Call the credit card companies again. Order another driver’s license. Pay through the nose for a cell phone. Never see my beautiful turquoise bag again.

But she smiled at me, and said, “Yes! The gentleman that was parked next to you turned it in. He’s a regular, and was really concerned when he gave it to us. He knew you’d be panicked when you realized it was missing!” When I followed her to the service desk and saw my bag on the counter, I could’ve cried. I’ve never had a more emotional reunion in my life. I may or may not have had a moment when I threw my arms in the air and exclaimed, “Thank you! This is why I love Publix!

So dear kind stranger, thank you for respecting my possessions, and for doing the right thing and turning them in without hesitation. More importantly, thank you for giving me proof to support my strong-held belief that good people outnumber the bad ones. I promise to pay it forward.

I also promise to pay more attention to the whereabouts of my stuff at. all. times.

On a brighter note: Our ribbon cutting was a smashing success! More on that later :-)

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  1. 8.17.12
    Allison said:

    Ha I did that at a publix in new tampa and the Walmart there. A $500 coach bag that was a gift for college graduation. Both times it was turned in. Last year I left my wallet in a restroom at the rest stop, and they met me somewhere to give it back. Some times people really surprise you.

  2. 8.9.12
    Louise said:

    After reading through this story it is truly inspiring! I work for a team called American Bear where the originators have created a documentary about how the kindness of strangers has saved them throughout their travels. After spending several months working with this team, I am amazed every day at just how kind and thoughtful people can really be. We post these types of stories to our website iamakindstranger.com and I wanted to know you would want to share your beautiful story here as well! Thank you for brightening my day! :)

  3. 8.6.12
    Colleen said:

    A few weeks ago I turned in a purse at In N Out. Someone had left it in the booth. The entire time I was eating there nobody came in to retrieve it. It was a fairly big, heavy purse

  4. 8.5.12
    Iris said:

    I love to hear stories like that, Karma is for real!

  5. 8.3.12

    The sweetest and greatest!!!!!!!

  6. 8.3.12

    That is so, so wonderful to hear.

    Once, in an airport waiting area, I foolishly left behind my camera and camera bag. After my husband and I moved on, we rushed back in a panic, sure that it was gone. But someone had ACTUALLY turned it in. I was shocked and amazed. It just shows, you never, ever know.

  7. 8.3.12
    arayofsun said:

    I just commented a few days ago about that turquoise bag! It is gorgeous and I’m so happy it was returned to you.

    A few weeks ago my sister, in a rush to get her children out of the house and off to swimming lessons, accidentally left her new iPhone on the top of her car as she drove down the highway. When she realized her mistake and that it was gone, she was very upset because it was a brand new gift from her mother-in-law. A day or so passed and she gave up hope on ever getting it back again. But then, one night as they sat around the dinner table, my sister got a call from a highway worker who had found it on the side of the road. He had looked through the contacts to find her home number and called to return it to her. She was elated.

    It is refreshing to know that kind hearted people still exist in today’s world!


  8. 8.3.12
    Jess said:

    Whew! I’ve lost many of my items lately as well. Once it was returned, the other two times not so lucky. I am also a firm believer in karma and also swear to always return anything I find to it’s rightful owner. It’s such a shame not to…bad karma will come to that clutch culprit.

  9. 8.3.12

    Oh man, I would have sweat through all my clothes on the way back to the grocery store!! That is a tale of heartbreak and success (my favorite kind of tale).

    Sarah’s Real Life

  10. 8.3.12
    Cynthia said:

    I almost cry..!! I belive that to..!
    If all the people do that… it will be a better World!

    Gretings From Mty, México.
    Cynthia L.

  11. 8.3.12
    Courtney said:

    I had tears in my eyes when I read this. There are good people in this world… so glad that this man was good to you.


  12. 8.3.12

    What a positive read to start my day!
    I too live my life with regards to Karma and always hope that if I find myself in a situation where the kindness of strangers is needed, they will do the right thing. I’m glad that there are still decent people out there in the world. I have followed your blog, as I find it really neat.
    Thanks for the read!


  13. 8.3.12

    Oh thank you dear God! Thank you that some kind man found it first. So lucky and so blessed! I would be totally freaked out and probably pass out if that happens. I hope it doesn’t happen again. Take care! Congratulations on your grand opening!!!!

  14. 8.2.12
    Linda said:

    Aww Keira, I’m so glad the man picked up your purse for you. I am a true believer that there are good and even great “regular” folks in the world. Congratulations on your grand opening!

  15. 8.2.12

    Glad to know some people in this world are good people. Happy everything worked out for you. Love your blog!

  16. 8.2.12

    Yay! It’s nice to hear good news; thanks for sharing. (And God bless that kind man!!!)