Janna came home last night and presented me with eleven giant, red, heart-shaped helium balloons.

She apologized one was missing.

She told me on her way home from teaching American Sign Language at New York University she found a guy selling bunches of balloons for .64 cents each. She bought a dozen.

Waiting for a PATH train at the Christopher Street station, a man tried to strike up a conversation with her.

That happens to us a lot and since Janna is Deaf she usually just smiles and points to her ears and shakes her head to let the person know she isn’t interested in communicating.

The guy followed her onto the train and persisted in trying to speak with her. Wrangling twelve helium balloons onto a packed train is no easy task.

Janna finally understood the guy was asking her about her balloons. She nodded and told him she paid .64 cents for each one.

The guy shook his head and pulled out a dollar. Tired from a day of working and a night of teaching, Janna didn’t understand what the guy wanted.

He pointed to the balloons and then to his dollar. She finally understood he wanted to buy a balloon from her and she felt a little insulted he was trying to pay her for an act of kindness.

Janna used her voice and said to the guy, “I don’t want your money. If you want a balloon, you can have a balloon.”

She untied one of her helium hearts and handed it to him as he again tried to give her a dollar. She took his hand in hers, crumpled the dollar bill back into his fist and pressed his hand away and wished him a happy Valentine’s Day.

When she told me that story and handed me eleven heart-shaped balloons, I never felt more loved or luckier to have such a fantastic and selfless woman in my life. Janna willingly gave away one of her hearts with no strings attached. She does that every day.

Here’s an image of the great gift she gave me yesterday and I wore it to bed last night while eleven heart-shaped balloons danced above my head.

Sometimes eleven adds up to more than twelve.

Janna's Valentine Gift to David


  1. great. thanks david. crying at work…splendid!
    thank you for sharing your touching story of love (in many forms) on valentines day.

  2. Aw, that was so sweet of her. You just don’t see people do that these days…she is special.

  3. Hi hterry!
    You’re right Janna is unique in the world.
    She has a good heart but sometimes that gets her in trouble, believe it or not, because people come to expect her to always give in, to always do the right thing, to always be the mature one in the group, and when she decides she’s had enough — they are shocked SHOCKED that she is actually human with private needs and wants of her own!

  4. Great story, David!
    I wonder if the guy was running short of time and money and needed to get a Valentine’s gift on the way home.
    Janna probably helped to save his relationship!
    I know I was waiting to the last minute when I stopped by Costco on the way home from work to pick up some roses. At least I wasn’t the only one who procrastinated. The store’s check out lanes were virtually empty, except for guys holding their single item purchase: Valentine’s Day roses.

  5. Hi Chris!
    Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate them.
    I think the guy was certainly short of time and money and he was desperate. Usually when someone so closely follows you onto a train you’re looking for a cop and not to help the person, but Janna wasn’t getting an “I’m gonna kill you” vibe from the guy. He wouldn’t give up pointing at the balloons so she decided to try to figure out what, exactly he wanted.
    He was happy with his balloon and both he and Janna left the train at Journal Square — he went way and Janna went the other.
    Yikes! That’s cutting it close, Chris! The line of guys with flowers is awfully funny. Did you snap a picture? It would have been priceless! I wonder how many of them were smiling.
    I was ahead of the game this year. I ordered Janna some custom MMs and she went wild for them! It was the first time I scored her something she actually wanted but didn’t know she wanted until she had it.
    Go for it next year! Get in early, though, because as you can see, the line is still long even now.
    I picked two colors and customized the MMs with “Janna LUV Dave” and “Dave HUG Janna” and such and it was fun and — the kicker part is — the MMs are SO FRESH!

  6. I like the custom MMs. And, there’s nothing better than fresh candy! It’s an excellent idea.
    I should have planned ahead, but I always wait until the last minute. I’m sure if I would have waited any longer than I had — I left work before 5 p.m. — all of the flowers would have been purchased.
    I knew a guy who would order Valentine’s Day flowers a week ahead of time and have them delivered to his wife at the school where she worked. It is a smart plan, but for some reason, I never think to plan ahead for those types of things.
    I wish I had had a camera with me. A camera phone would have been handy for some good candid shots. (I’ll have to plan ahead for that next year also!) There were so many guys buying flowers that the lady who was checking receipts at the exit made a comment to her coworker about how it seemed that she hadn’t seen any female shoppers that day.

  7. Hi Chris!
    I have learned to plan ahead if you want to get something good. Flowers are always aces if you pay enough to get the good stuff. A nice bouquet will run $80-$100 here delivered. The MMs were around $50 delivered for four bags with a special greeting card that cost $2.50 but didn’t get delivered.
    Valentine’s Day is either a win or lose situation. There’s never an “okay, thanks” response. You either hit it or you suck it and if you didn’t hit it you ain’t suckin’ anything fun if you know what I mean!
    It’s a lot of pressure.
    A camera would have been great seeing alll those sullen last-minute faces at Costco knowing they were on the road to suckdom if their relationship was in any way new or tenuous.

  8. Another good story, Dave. I really like the visuality of your writing. I’m right there on the train with Janna.

  9. Thanks, Anne!
    I appreciate the feedback and while the story is published under my name, the story belongs to Janna. She told it all to me when she came home last night and I just repeated it here for you in print form.

  10. You two sure do have a lot of stories to tell. Keep up the great work! It’s always fun to read the good and the bad and the good with the bad.

  11. Well, I don’t know how much it means, but as an avowed Valentine’s Day hater, your story made me think twice about it. Janna sounds like a love.

  12. Hey zia!
    I’m telling you it means a lot!
    Valentine’s Day is only fun if doing something isn’t required. If you feel obligated to play, then it becomes a chore and not a love of expression. We’ve gone years at a time without doing anything special on that day. We are slaves to inspiration and not the calendar.
    Janna is pretty keen, yah. She has a hard time accepting not everyone behaves as she behaves, though.
    When I told her she’s the only person I know who would give away a balloon for free her reply was, “Really? I wonder why?”
    I told her because she’s one of a kind. That made her a little sad, though, because she felt even more alone in the world instead of even more special.

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