A True Story About the Kindness of Total Strangers in St. Louis!
My friend “B” was recently volunteering for a downtown non-profit. She was told to park in one specific multi-level garage where they would validate her ticket so she could park for free.
I worked in downtown St. Louis and parked in one of those multi-level garages for over 12 years . . . they can be quite scary, especially if you are navigating the elevators and stairwells alone. It also does not help that STL has recently been dubbed one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
When it came time to exit the garage, B had her validated ticket in-hand and proceeded to “swipe” the ticket in the reader to no avail. The security gate did not budge, and she was stuck. There was no human within eyesight, and the “squawk box” to her left found her trying to converse with a difficult-to-understand static-filled voice.
With no one in line behind her, B backed up into an empty spot, got out, locked her car, and proceeded to walk around a bit looking for help. She spotted and walked up to one of those city worker-bee trucks and proceeded to ask for help in getting out of the garage. The two employees (a man and a woman) in the truck explained they worked for the St. Louis City Schools and weren’t sure if they could help. (NOTE: I know you are thinking it, so allow me to answer . . . B is white and the workers were black.)
Frustrated, B started walking back to her car to figure out her next best step when she noticed the two city workers following her. The woman asked to see B’s validated ticket to see if she could possibly help. That’s when they all noticed the ink on the ticket was so weak, there was no wonder why the reader couldn’t read the ticket so B could get out.
The two STL workers stayed with B and continued to “talk” with the person beyond the “squawk box”, reading the numbers on the ticket the best they could . . . trying to convince the voice on the other end to open up the gate. Their efforts eventually proved successful! They even asked the growing line of cars behind the security gate to back up enough so B could pull her car through when the “squawk box” voice finally agreed to open the gate for B.
With a heart full of gratitude and new-found friends, B proceeded safely out of the garage!
We all cross “intersections” with people in our lives on a daily basis, most of whom are total strangers. At any given point we have the choice to trust and reach out, taking the chance that one of those strangers might actually become a friend. Quite often, we get exactly what we expect.
The kindness of strangers is alive and well in St. Louis, and I personally expect to encounter more of these KIND of people.
So, whenever I hear someone use the phrase, “Stick with your own kind,” I cringe. Maybe it’s not about the color of your skin . . . or your national origin . . . or your political preferences . . . or where you celebrate your spirituality . . . or where you park your car . . . perhaps it’s simply about the KINDness in your heart.
IT’S TIME TO BE KIND . . . BIG TIME.
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