It’s raining. Not men, mind you, but cats and dogs and I’m standing at the bus stop in Northern Liberties sans umbrella, despite the fact that my students all chipped in to buy me a lovely (and not inexpensive) travel umbrella at the end of the year.
I’ve just left a meeting for the Fringe Festival, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty and the bus is nowhere in sight.
Across the street is a large row home with huge bay windows on the first floor. Inside is a man, perhaps in his mid-thirties, wearing a beat up fedora, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette, as you do in NoLibs…
He smiles at me and I nod back, leaning against a telephone pole because I never was very good in science and I’m convinced that the pole will offer some sort of protection against the weather (either that or it will increase the likelihood of my being struck by lightning and subsequently turning into some sort of superhero).
The bus is nowhere in sight and although I’ve waited at this particular bus stop before, it was always with Date #17, and not by myself, in the rain, sans umbrella. The potential for a cinematic make out session is drastically reduced when you have no one to make out with.
It is at this precise moment that the man across the street gets up. I freeze. He’s watching me. He knows I’m waiting for the bus. What if he invites me in? What then? Do I hedge my bets and hope he’s not an axe murderer or do I stand there dripping wet on the sidewalk, mascara running down my face but blissfully un-murdered?
He approaches his front door.
I look away, pretending I don’t see him.
He steps onto the landing.
I avoid eye contact.
He weaves through the cars parked along the curb and crosses the street.
I fiddle with my cell phone.
“Here,” he says at last, proffering a large red and white umbrella. “I saw you waiting just and kept thinking, ‘That poor girl!’”
I’m not even wearing heels.
Eventually I do manage to say thank you—after all, it’s not every day that a bone fide hipster turns out to be an umbrella-wielding knight-in-shining-armor.
Unfortunately, he lives on the side of the street opposite the bus stop so when the #57 finally arrives a full twenty five minutes later, I have to run across the street, lean the umbrella against his stoop and sprint back through traffic, all the while attempting not to get murdered for a second time (this time by an errant bus driver) but I manage.
I ride home in a state of complete euphoria (either that or the early stages of pneumonia), recalling the many strangers across the world to whom I’m completely indebted and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
If you’ve ever experienced an extreme (or even minor) act of kindness from a complete stranger, please share below. (And although I doubt very much this particular NoLibs hipster is a member of my “public” I’d like to offer a great bit “thank you,” not only for the usage of your umbrella but for restoring my faith in humanity.)