The Kindness Of Strangers

Somewhere in Montana this morning there’s a young woman on a bus with a half-eaten sandwich and an unfinished quart of chocolate milk, heading west toward an uncertain future. She’s there because of a friend of mine, and I want to tell you a short story of true compassion and an unspoken reaffirmation of a lifelong friendship.

My friend stopped at a Bismarck gas station yesterday afternoon and was approached by a young woman asking about a ride west. She wanted to get at least as far as Dickinson by dark. My friend said she was sorry she wasn’t going west, but, being inquisitive, asked of her circumstances. The woman said she and her boyfriend had come to North Dakota seeking work–they had heard about good jobs here–but hadn’t had a lot of luck until a couple days ago. The boyfriend had found a job, and had dumped her in Bismarck with nothing but a sleeping bag. She had slept on the street somewhere the night before, and somehow had made contact with her family in Washington state, who said she should come back home. She didn’t have any money. Neither did her family in
Washington. She was hungry, cold, tired and broke.

My friend is one of the most caring, compassionate women I know. This young woman didn’t know it at the time (or maybe she did; maybe she saw something in my friend’s eyes–she’s a bit of an open book) but she could not have picked a better person to tell her story to. My friend listened, swooped the young woman up, bought her a quart of chocolate milk and “a humongous sandwich,” and drove her to the bus depot.  There, she bought the young woman a $200 non-refundable bus ticket to Seattle, put her on the bus, and said goodbye. I would have liked to have seen the hug the two exchanged as my friend left the bus depot.

The $200 for the bus ticket is nothing to sneeze at. My friend isn’t rich. But she had enough money for the bus ticket and the young woman didn’t. She’s a mother, and perhaps envisioned a child of hers in a similar situation. Whatever, she did not hesitate for an instant when she saw a clear path to a solution for this young woman’s problems.  The young woman, like Blanche Dubois, depended on “the kindness of strangers” to help her through a bad time. By the end of the day today, she should be in the arms of her family. I’ll bet she will never forget my friend.

We all have friends. Some of them we’ve had most of our lives. We take them for granted. They are just “there.” We don’t think about “why.” And then something like this happens, and we are reminded “why.” Why they are our friends. God, it’s good to know people like this.

6 thoughts on “The Kindness Of Strangers

  1. To: Mr. Jim Fuglie
    From: Patrick Curtice

    Thank-you for posting this story. It is very good to hear about the kindess of a complete stranger in making a positive diffence in someone elses life.
    I was just reading the the Forum Fargo-Moorehead news on-line this morning at the library when I came acrooss this story.
    The reason for me replying to your story is because I was stranded here in Fargo on Sept.30,2012. When I realized that I had missed my ride with my co-workers, I wasn’t sure of what to do. With the help of several local residents in the Fargo-Moorehead area, (all of whom were complete strangers to me,as I was to them) I have received much appreciated help/assistance for all of my “immediate needs”including job placement assistance!
    For me personally, I don’t feel that I could have been stranded in a better place. I am originally from Yankton, SD. Some of the people who have helped me said that I should consider making Fargo, ND my new home because the people here in this area are good people and that the job market is good. If I can make it through a North Dakota winter, I think that I will be one of Fargos’ newest residents from South Dakota.
    Thanks again for posting this story about your friend and her kindness, may God bless her!
    Sincerely,
    Patrick Curtice

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    1. Well, Patrick, I think you will find the winters in Fargo are just a lot like the winters in Yankton, so I think you’ll be okay.You reminded me of a visit I had with the former mayor of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. He was originally from somewhere down south of here too, and I asked him one day why he had settled in East Grand Forks instead of Grand Forks. He said “I just couldn’t take that damn North Dakota wind.”

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      1. Good moring Jim,

        Thank-you for easing my mind a little bit considering the North Dakota weather. My grandparents lived in Yankton,SD for quite some time and when my dad moved us to pursue a different occupation, we went back to Yankton almost every weekend to visist our relatives and to go fishing on the Missouri river up by Gavins Point Dam with my grandpa and uncles. I have always felt close to home when I’m in any of the AG states.
        I’ll “give it a go” this winter and see how I fair. This is not not my first rodeo with a Dakota winter, but I’m older now, so I’m going to throw on a couple of extra layers just in case.

        Sincerely,
        Patrick

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  2. What a wonderful, loving story. It helps me realize that many of the people who come hear, young and old, don’t have many resources and are sometimes bordering on desperation. We “old timers” here may want to reach out more and be good neighbors. This story reminds us how.

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  3. Even though I have moved away from North Dakota many years ago, I still feel the best folks in the world live or are from there. I still say “home” when I talk of going there!

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