Page Three Random Acts

Election Day Eats Come Courtesy Of an Alexandria Good Samaritan

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We've made a fairly persuasive case with Random Acts that people routinely do nice things for perfect strangers. Despite that, the recipients of these kindnesses always seem amazed by them, and very often they admit they weren't able to say thank you. Our advice? If you make a practice of saying thank you routinely, you'll remember to do it even when you're amazed.

On the Saturday before the election, my husband and I decided to take advantage of early voting. So too, it seemed, did at least half of our neighbors in Old Town Alexandria. The lines were long and the wait was estimated at two hours.

It was a beautiful day and there was excitement in the air, so we got in line. We passed the time by getting to know those around us, chatting about favorite restaurants and the Redskins. We held each others' places in line while neighbors ran errands or made a quick trip for a cup of coffee. The time passed easily.

Then an amazing thing happened. A woman approached us carrying trays and trays of sandwiches and chips from Panera Bread. She worked the lines giving away the food. Several of us commented on what a great marketing idea it was . . . we certainly were a captive and hungry audience. When she came back with dessert, I asked her where her shop was because I wanted to shop there as a thank you. Her reply: "Oh, I don't work for them. I live across the street and have been watching all of you standing here. I figured you might be hungry so I brought you lunch."

It was such a kind gesture and it brought smiles to everyone around us. We never got her name . . . she disappeared as quickly as she arrived. I hope she is reading this. She made our day.

-- Carleen Kohut, Alexandria

Feeling Up Back Down Under

I awoke that morning realizing we had come to the end of our glorious one-month visit from my husband's family from "Down Under." The monuments, the museums, the miles traveled by car and by foot, the delicious food and drink, the laughter and tears -- all would end by evening, when they left for the long trip home.

There were still two more meals to share before final packing and weighing of multiple suitcases. I was a few things short of what I needed to make a great send-off breakfast. Plus, my sister-in law had requested some Tylenol and Zantac to carry back with her. My Warrenton Giant was going to save me.

No time for makeup or dress-up, I was off on a mission. At the store, I gathered my items and moved with speed and agility toward the self-checkout register. I searched for my charge card. No card! I recalled that it was at home in my jean's pocket. Quietly, I made an SOS call to my patient husband and asked him to rescue me. His response was laughter and "See you soon, Darl."

A minute later, a sweet cashier came to me and said: "You can call your husband back; this young lady has just paid your bill." Before me was a lovely young woman, much my junior, who said: "I just wanted to do this!" The bill was $43 and change. I was overwhelmed. Before I could even get her name or thank her properly, she was gone.

Thank you so much, you beautiful young lady who shops at the Warrenton Giant. Your sensitivity and your kindness touched not only me, but our Australian family as well. They are now home in Brisbane, and they will never forget your generosity. To them, you are America.

-- Patty Bates, Warrenton

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