RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: "From a friend. Stay warm."

Sunday, January 18, 2015, 7:14 am
Harold Cowherd

For a little over two years I was an intern at (SCENE) Metrospace, an
alternative contemporary art gallery and performance space in downtown East
Lansing. Tim Lane, director/curator had planned a meeting at 1:30 pm to review Metrospace business. When I arrived, I noticed there was a pretty big box, about 3 feet by 3 feet sitting next to the chair that I sit in.

“What’s this?”

“I don’t know, I found it outside the door when I came in. Look at the

“It has my name on it! Who would be sending me anything?! And why would
they send it here?!”

“I wonder what’s in the box.”

“Um, why don’t you open it? It has your name on it.”

I noted that my name was on the address label and the return address
said “Land’s End.”

“Land’s End? Don’t they sell clothes?”

“Open the box, Harold.”

Given the size of the box I thought it was a coat. Because of several
break-ins and an unscrupulous landlord I had lost most of what I owned. So
at that point I was reduced to wearing two sweat shirts with a shirt and an
undershirt underneath as my “winter coat.” (Mom always said to dress in
layers.) Well, this was last year right before the ice storm. I pulled
an orange Parka out of the box. There was a small card attached, it said:

“From a friend, stay warm”

I looked at Tim, and he immediately said “I didn't send it.” Given his economic
circumstances, I believed him. This parka must have cost around $300. The
only other person who could have done it was my mother, but she had been
deceased for about two years at that time.

Who sent it? I have my suspicion that it was a Michigan State University
employee that I did some contract work a few months prior. This individual
is very private and would not want their identity revealed. Would they
reveal it to me if I asked? It was equally plausible that I was

I've now come to the conclusion that I’ll never know for sure who
sent me that Parka. It literally could be anyone, an acquaintance or a
friend…or even a stranger.

Some good Samaritan lurked in the shadows, because they had no ego to
bruise and no ego to stroke. They carried out their work covertly. They didn’t
need or particularly desire any praise or recognition. They don’t need any
expressions of gratitude or even a hug. They appear to possess deep empathy, and the desire to help when they identify a need.

I told the story of my parka numerous times. I don't believe anyone I
told the story to was my benefactor. I visited my suspected “secret
Samaritans” with the coat on and observed their behavior. No compliments on
the coat. No smiles or looks of surprise or recognition. Nothing out of the
ordinary. I’ll never know who did this kindness for me, and that will have to

Secret Samaritan if you’re reading this, you earned your wings and I’m
eternally grateful!


[Editor's Note: this story is not written in ELi's traditional journalistic style, but we felt that in this case, the author's authentic voice was the best vehicle for telling his own story.]


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