Random Acts

My brain was stuck in a rotary of fearful thoughts for most of the day and I really thought I was going to have to write this post about how, even when I feel like things are looking up overall, I still have so many days that are melancholy and full of nothing. The kind of days that are upsetting for many reasons, but none more so than that I get the sense that I’m living through the material they skip in the movie script. Then, I went fabric shopping. 

I try not to have superstitious or “magic” thoughts as much as possible. I know that with the way my brain works, full of OCD and prone to sensationalism, I could easily develop another level of paranoia I don’t need. I try to give myself a mental slap whenever I start to think that something is “a sign”. When my mother went overseas on a mission trip to Jamaica and I became consumed by the idea that she would die, my therapist asked what made me so sure of that. “Because,” I said, “If this were a movie, that would be what would happen next”. She wrote ‘LIFE IS NOT A MOVIE’ on a post-it and made me tape it to my bedroom mirror.

Sometimes, though, life seems to arrange itself in a way that seems slightly more than coincidental and I have to give it a nod. My mother calls these things “god winks”, I call them movie fodder. Today, after sitting at my desk and worrying about worrying, sure that I’d be faced with a day (on day 3, no less) where my blog post would be a wordy way of saying “nothing happened, I had no interesting thoughts”, the universe deigned to throw me some after-work irony.

I beat the rain on my way to the fabric store in the most millennial way possible, a five minute ride-share, totaling $2.75. I found what I needed, which helped my mood and made me think that I could at least blog about how weirdly difficult finding decent silver satin had been, a post that would have riveted at least three or four people other than me. Still having a couple of hours to kill before Konner could pick me up on his way home from his MFA, I decided to take another $2 Lyft to another craft store so I could rub my hands on nice yarn. When the driver arrived, he stopped in the middle of the parking lot lane and, between the rain and the annoyed Somervillians behind him, I sprinted to the car. Before we’d even made it to the road, that out-of-body, slow motion feeling hit me. The feeling I think you can only get for two reasons, being hit by a moving vehicle and realizing your phone is missing. The driver offered to turn around an search for it, as it had obviously fallen out of my pocket while running. I jumped out of the car before he could finish his sentence, because I am a crazy person. Of course, given that he had a car and I had short legs and waterlogged Clarks, he got back to the pickup point first and found my phone.

I ran towards the car in the rain, but it wasn’t much like a movie because I was flailing and my shoes were squelching and I was softly yelling ‘ahhhhhhhhhhh’. I was pretty sure the stupid glass brick was toast, and that wasn’t the anxiety talking. It may not be an iPhone, but it’s not the waterproof kind of Android and, besides, someone probably ran it over. In a truly head-scratching moment of good fortune, it wasn’t crushed or even dinged and, despite having been found face-down in a puddle like Poe, it seemed to be alive. The patient, kind passenger who had been the backseat audience to this little melodrama even called it to prove it still worked. As we got back on the road and I finished thanking and apologizing to my carmates five or six times, I reluctantly realized that going to the pretty yarn store was a dumb idea, especially since my mom said I sounded like I was “underwater” on the phone when I called her. I had to get home and stick it in some rice, or whatever Instructables recommended.

There’s an endless amount of chatter about “random acts of kindness”; online groups dedicated to them, feel-good news stories about them, days devoted to performing them. I even participate in a yearly oddball scavenger hunt that benefits a charity with these spontaneous good deeds at its core. Pay-it-forwards and prepaid vending machines make me as warm and fuzzy as anyone, but the obviousness of the acts don’t really catch my interest. I’m less interested in Random Acts of Kindness than I am in random acts. Just actions that people do in their day because they decide to, not out of some conscious effort towards kindness, that nonetheless slot into someone else’s day in a remarkable way. It doesn’t even need to be a positive action. Someone not holding the elevator door for you can lead to any number of interesting, out of the ordinary ways for the rest of your day to go. The random act I got today, however was a decidedly kind one.

As I tried to figure out how to change the destination on my Lyft app with a wet screen and wet fingers, the driver asked where my home (and thus bowl of rice) was. It turns out he needed to go the same way and would just drop me off, no charge, no app involved. That, I suppose, is a Random Act of Kindness, but I’m more intrigued in what happened after. While we drove home I dried my phone out with the car vents and chatted absently about what I’d been buying fabric for. It turns out he and his friends made cosplays years ago and that now they collect replica movie cars. He has the Starsky and Hutch car! His buddy has a Delorean! No way, that’s literally what I’m making a dress of. Well, get this, he used to make props for movies! He used to collect film props and costumes! He showed me a video of  a replica Enterprise model he and the company he used to work for made that was so intricately detailed I could only make squeaking noises while watching. Turns out he used to make high end replica props to sell to collectors. Turns out he and his friends bring their cars to conventions, conventions I attend.

Dropping me off at home was incredibly kind, but the whole random act itself was more serendipitous than anything deliberate, allowing me to meet a local, talented, geeky person my convention social circle would probably have never intersected and hear about his enviably interesting exploits, and it all made today definitely script-worthy. The phone is still on rice.

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