Friday, February 26, 2010

Orange you glad you know me?

OK, that was lame.

A few things.

First of all... I don't feel much like talking about any of this, or doing anything productive, or being a contributing member of society in any meaningful way right now. I'm a little bit obsessively following the story of one Layla Grace, a 2-year-old who is on death's doorstep with cancer. I've only been following her story for the last two or three days. So let me say, I cannot explain to you why it has me so emotional. I've been crying on and off for the last two days for this child. Here I go again... but just the thought of the pain that mother feels... and to read how strong she seems in all her writings... I just feel sick. Also, it's probably PMS. But really, I feel sick with sadness. It's heartbreaking.

You can become a sad and obsessed follower of this story yourself by reading her blog at or her twitter feed at @laylagrace.

There's no good way to transition from that talk about real life and death matters to what's going to follow: a story about an orange.

It's not even a very compelling story. But here goes.

Thursday was Random Act of Kindness Day. I had no idea what I was going to do. But in the morning, I went and had my finger-prints taken for the Detroit Reading Corps. The parking lot at the building was the kind with a gate, a ticket and a bored attendant. I struck me as I was pulling in: when I left, I could pay for the car behind me! But then when the time came, a) I didn't know how much that would be, as the price depends on how long you stayed, and b) I was slightly concerned that the booth attendant would just keep the money since there was no car actually behind me in line.

I know. I'm judgmental.

But I never had the chance anyways. Right off the bat, she tells me that they won't take $20 bills, which was all I had. In fact, I'd just gone to the ATM in the building and paid a $3 fee to take that money out after seeing a sign on the way in stating they also don't take credit or debit. It said nothing about $20s. My only solution was to re-park and go back inside to buy something so I'd have smaller bills.

Let me say, I did not look at this like, oh, YIPPEE, just what I wanted to do when this whole process has already taken way longer than I'd planned! No. I was just a tad more grumpy with that, thinking things like, "Really, parking lot booth, you don't take 20s? Or debit cards. REALLY?"

But then I realized that maybe this was my chance. I went into the little deli/convenience store and grabbed an orange. At that point, I wanted it for myself. I usually eat one at work each day, but I'd forgotten to bring one. But on my way out I felt like I was supposed to offer it to the attendant.

Here's what I thought as I drove up: She's going to think I'm crazy. She's going to think I'm pitying her, that I think she is a poor single teenage mother on welfare who needs a free handout. She is going to think I poisoned the orange.

Aren't our brains stupid?

So what happened? I said in a totally-I'm-not-pitying-you way, "Would you like an orange?" To which she said, "Sure. Thank you." She took the orange, set it down, and then said, "Would you like a receipt?"  I waited for it, and then the gate rose, and she finally made eye-contact with me and smiled just the teensy-tiniest smile. Her lips barely moved. But I saw it as she said, "Have a nice day."

Anyway, I know it's kind of lame. An orange. What kind of act of kindness is that? Probably true. It didn't feel like much.

I hope it felt like a little bit more than that to her.


  1. I told Bill last night that I feel like a stalker on Layla's page. It's so upsetting to me, but I feel like i need to follow her journey too.

    And if I had been that attendant, I would've said "no," but only because i hate's a texture thing. :)

  2. Dude, I can't STOP. I freaking cried myself to sleep last night over Layla. It's soooo heartbreaking.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm enjoying yours, right now. Love what you did with your orange.


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