Monday, December 2, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers --- and Karma

So last summer somewhere in the Cleveland Airport I lost my traveling jacket. A sky blue wind breaker with two silver glow-in-the-dark stripes across the back. This jacket with deep, zip-up pockets made out of rain repellant material has visited Ireland twice and the San Juan Islands more winters than I can count. For fall walks along Alki Beach there is nothing better. So when I arrived in transit in San Francisco and prepared myself for the last flight home, I simply couldn't believe the jacket was gone.

And not only my jacket. There was the matter of those deep pockets (see above). In one I had my keys --- house, work, and post office box. In the other, a blue Chinese bag with my favorite earrings tucked inside. It's not hyperbole to say, I couldn't imagine my life without these things. Especially the keys. Arriving home after midnight, I ended up digging in the ground for the emergency key.

The next day I called everyone I could think of -- from United Airlines to TSA to the coffee shop in the airport. Amazingly, each place I called, a person answered on the first ring. But the answers were all the same. No jacket. Several months passed and in that time I replaced the keys, the jacket, and I bought some new earrings. And yet. How to replace things that were not exactly replaceable? I even mourned the key ring. 

Until one day late in August I checked my post office box. When I opened the brass door,  a  package awaited me from an unknown address. It's not unusual for me to receive books for review but this package was larger than a book. In fact, I opened it to discover my long lost jacket, nearly three months after I'd lost it. 

The return address was a small town in central California which I'd never heard of  --- and the name was only a first initial followed by a generic last name. Extensive Google searching turned up a photo of the house where my hero lived and how much s/he paid for said house --- but nothing more. 

There were two Alchemist Kitchen business cards in the pocket of the jacket and that must've tipped her (or him) off as to where the blue jacket belonged. But how did it get to California from Cleveland? Why did the do-gooder not include a note? I've made up at least half a dozen stories to amuse myself -- but the answer is clear: there are good people in the world who come forward and want nothing in return.

So to that dear person in central California, you know who you are, a thousand and one thank yous.


  1. Susan, I love this story.

    My ex-husband lost his camera in a sweater shop in the Aran Islands, left his name and American address with the shopkeeper, and many months later received a package in the mail: his camera. No note, no explanation.

    But how I love these cross-planet connections!