By Judy Berman
A load of laundry and a notebook, ordinary things in our everyday lives, have a very special place in my heart.
They are reminders of times when strangers came to my rescue.
When I lived in the country, wash day was a mixed blessing. Most of the wash went out on the line.
The scent of fresh air lingered long after they were trotted inside, folded or ironed, and put away.
But, that routine changed when I moved to Syracuse, New York. My apartment had no place to wash clothes or hang them out to dry.
So, I trudged to a Laundromat about six blocks from my home. I had no choice. I didn’t have a car.
While I was going thru the mindless tasks linked to washing clothes, I was unaware of what else was happening at the Laundromat.
Another woman, her kids in tow, came up to me. She spotted a man watching me. She said he took his clothes out of the washer before the cycle was complete and threw them into a dryer. She suspected he was trying to finish the same time as me.
She asked if I’d like to walk with her to her apartment. I gratefully accepted.
I don’t remember if we shared a cup of coffee or how long we talked. All I recall is that when I left, I felt like a guardian angel sent this woman to watch over me.
I never saw her again, but I think of that day quite often.
There, no doubt, have been many kind strangers that I’ve crossed paths with. One, who I never met, entered my life during my first year of teaching.
I left the comfort of the world I knew – newspaper reporting – about a year before. When I entered my classroom, so much was foreign to me.
Oh, I had several kind mentors, fellow teachers and administrators to help me over the hurdles. But one challenge that loomed large every day was: What will my lesson be for the next 45 minutes?
That map is vital. It is the tool needed to focus on what to teach with the end in mind. What do students need to know to meet the standards and to build on for success for their next school year.
In trying to figure this out, I felt like I stumbled more than a few times.
Then, one day, I found a notebook filled with lesson plans left by the teacher who had been there the year before.
There, in a neat, white binder were the guidelines that included everything from the “welcome to the new school year” packets, class expectations and lesson plans to accompany teaching a book.
I felt like I’d entered the cave with Indiana Jones and discovered hidden treasure.
That notebook, written by Amy Gamerl, was more valuable than the richest find by any treasure-seeker. It guided me thru my first unsteady year of teaching.
I never had the opportunity to thank Amy. But I am very indebted to her.
My post was inspired by this article on Buzzfeed: “What’s the Nicest Thing a Stranger Has Ever Done for You? http://www.buzzfeed.com/h2/fbdh/windows/we-asked-people-to-share-the-nicest-thing-a-strang#.gb94MzkqNZ
Please share your experiences.
Music Video: “Try a Little Kindness” by Glen Campbell (1969) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaCBTSQZq1E
Photo: Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (1942) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a8/Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942.jpg/640px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942.jpg
Photo: Kindness – “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” (Aesop, author of “The Lion and the Mouse” – a Greek fable) (620 BC – 560 BC)