The stranger sighed. “Long day?” I asked, as we waited for the elevator.

She nodded. “There have been a lot of long days lately,” she said. She was wearing Army fatigues and boots. Maybe she’d been in Iraq or Afghanistan, I thought. Lots of long days there.

“I lost my mom recently, so I’m dealing with all that,” she said quietly.

I wanted to comfort her — even to hug her — but could only manage a quick “I’m sorry” before the elevator arrived and we were no longer alone.

I don’t know much about life in the military. But dealing with the loss of a parent? That’s a battle I understand.

Eric Felton,


While shopping for wedding gifts at the Bed Bath & Beyond, I was overwhelmed by all the china and glass. A young clerk came to my aid.

Very patiently, she guided me through the process and helped me compose the accompanying note in elegant lettering. She did it all with much courtesy and kindness.

When we finished, I walked up to an older man in a suit at the registry desk and expressed my appreciation for the assistance his clerk had given. On my way out, I whispered to the clerk that I had complimented her to her boss. She thanked me, then said sweetly: “Actually, I’m his boss.”

Yocheved Karlin,


NEW QUERY: Tell us about a time when you had an ad­ven­ture in babysitting.

The Washington Post is partnering with the Public Insight Network (PIN) to hear more of your 100 percent true stories taken from your own experience. Submit your answer to the query above online at­query. By sharing your story, you become part of PIN — a network of more than 130,000 people who contribute to high-quality journalism. Editors will choose an entry to run in the Magazine, but we will also share more of your stories online. You can also submit to The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.