Wednesday January 23, 2013–Standing at a bus stop with mitten covered hands shielding my ears I bounced up and down trying to maintain my core body temperature. I wasn’t embarrassed; I was freezing. Actually, 17 degrees below freezing, to be exact.
I tried not to draw attention to myself since I was the only unprepared New Englander at the stop. Instead, I held my hands steadily and willed the South Amherst bus to appear in front of me. As soon as I arrived home I would quickly thaw out and continue my day.
The bus was late.
As the cold seeped into my core I began to stare absent-mindedly. Then, a grey knitted cap entered my sight. A stranger at the bus stop, rummaged through his bag and found an old hat. With a grin on his face he said, “It’s not fashionable, but it’s better than your ears falling off.”
I told him I could’t take it because it was my mistake for not bringing my own. He responded with a confused look exclaiming, that’s crazy and insisted that I wear his hat until the bus came. I took his hat gratefully, pulled it over my ears, and said “this is really the nicest thing that someone has done for me in such a long time!” He responded with a straight face and said, “you need to get out more.”
When the bus pulled up I returned the hat and said thank you. The stranger replied, “don’t thank me, just pay it forward.” That was the last I saw from him, and I doubt that I’ll ever run into him again, but his action was one that I won’t soon forget. For him this was routine, but for me, in that moment, it made my entire day.
He may not have known it, but in my eyes, this kind stranger was extraordinary.