Brittney Baker

Freelance Writer/Editor

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Things I learned in college- The kindness of strangers

I've had these incidents kicking around in a draft for some time now- one, a run in with a non-English speaking octogenarian handing out Christian lit in the Salvation army, the other, recounting when I hopped the wrong bus in a foreing country and had to find my way back to where I was staying. I looked for a theme connecting the two and it is "The kindness of strangers". The challenge? Not becoming overly wordy or saccharine-too easy to do and a tough habit to break!

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My introduction includes new neighbors. I grew up in a snobbish neighborhood where nobody looked at each other and knew everybody else's business. A couple moved in nextdoor to my parents a few years back, after being left a home. They knocked on my parents door with garden-fresh tomatoes. We were instantly suspicious. 

This is what I have so far

It was the spring semester of my junior year of college when I found myself co-directing, producing and later starring in a comedy called Breaking Legs. I wish I could say that experience alone was one of my most memorable in my four years of higher education.  It is, partially. I was in the Salvation Army one afternoon shopping for set dressing. As I carefully compared teacups in the back of the store, a woman approached me. She was aged somewhere between 70 and 100 years old and despite her most definitely Hispanic features, her slight, hunched stature and protruding jaw made me want to call her Strega Nona. Strega wore brown from head to toe and crept toward me looking lost, even among the relics of the New Rochelle Salvo. I’d like to say that I asked the poor woman if I could help her with something. “Are you lost?”, “The ___are this way, follow me.” But I just stood there, looked away and picked up two drinking glasses with kittens etched into them, as if they were a pair to really consider. 

The woman approaches me and hands me a bilingual church pamphlet on depression. I keep that pamphlet in my purse for well past the next year. 

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