by Lisa Vetitoe
In 1998 I rented a storage unit in a small community west of Nashville to help me organize my home. Inside I put my personal artwork: etchings, silk-screen prints, and the original plates they were made from. Also inside were photos, books and miscellaneous stuff.
Five months later, when I returned to clean out my unit, I found someone had beaten me to it! The owner had known my things had disappeared and never reported it to me; instead he had simply re-rented my unit. I tried in vain for months to find my belongings; posting flyers, searching stores, even taking the owner of the storage unit to small claims court.
I was devastated to lose my art, and especially irreplaceable memorabilia from my school years 25 years earlier, including my “letters” (sports team initials to be sewn onto a sweater or jacket) from Junior High basketball in the 1970s.
Four years later, I received a call from a stranger who lived 30 miles away.
This woman had been to her local thrift store and found a box containing yearbooks from her son’s school. She purchased two, intending to give them to her son.
However, inside she found my name and a class reunion paper with my married name. She couldn’t believe someone would just give up these things, and thought there must be more to the story, that I might want them back. She searched for my phone number and called me immediately.
She graciously agreed to meet me at the thrift store the very next morning. I was so impressed by her willingness to go out of her way to meet me on a Saturday morning. She even asked what would be a convenient time to meet!
When I arrived at the store the following morning, an older lady with a sweet smile greeted me as I stepped from the car. Of course, she had my yearbook. Then we went into the thrift store, and I found the rest of my books, my diploma, letters, and a high school banner. I even found my son’s baby picture album, with newborn photos and clippings, which I had thought was still safely stored at home.
Not only did this woman refuse a reward, she wouldn’t let me repay what she’d spent on the books. The woman at the thrift store was happy as well to give me the remainder of the items she’d purchased at a nearby yard sale three months prior.
I still don’t know how these items ended up 30 miles north of where they started out, but getting them back was truly unexpected and wonderful. After a bad experience, this one act of kindness helps me to remember that for every bad egg, there are dozens of good ones to counteract their actions. Thank you again, Mrs. Strunk!