Last Friday I was presented evidence — through direct experience — confirming what I argued in my The Last Selfless Act article. I discovered there are real people who are really willing to help with nothing in it in the end for them on their end. I was walking to the bank when my Blackberry rang with the following:
I answered the phone — and through the static and the inaudible haze that is Cingular on a cloudy and windy day — I heard a man’s voice piping from my phone in an Australian accent. The man told me he found a Blackberry on the Subway in Manhattan and when he checked the phone log my phone number was the last number called. He asked me if I knew who owned the Blackberry.
I shouted into the phone my eternal thanks because the Blackberry belonged to my wife Janna! The Anonymous Stranger said he’d “bring it to me.” I told him I wasn’t in Manhattan and neither was Janna. I asked him where he was. He told me he was in the Union Square area. I asked if he’d be willing to go into the big Barnes and Noble in Union Square and leave the phone with their Lost and Found folks?
He said he would. I asked him to please leave a note with the phone detailing his name and address so we could send him a thank you. He told me that wasn’t necessary. I told him I wanted to thank him.
He told me that wasn’t necessary. We hung up the phones and I sighed that Janna’s Blackberry — her lifeline of communication support — was found so quickly and so kindly. She uses her Blackberry so much that the plastic holster is loose from wear and tear. She had the phone in her coat pocket and when she sat down on the subway, the phone slid — as it always does — out of its holster and onto the seat next to her.
She now uses my holster. Five minutes later my Blackberry rang again with the announcement Janna was calling. The Anonymous Stranger said he was in Barnes and Noble and he was handing over the phone to Lost and Found. He wanted my name to put on the phone for safekeeping. I gave him my name and I again asked for his. He told me that wasn’t necessary.
I thanked him again and again he told me, “That isn’t necessary.” When we disconnected for the final time, I struggled to give the moment meaning and context in light of some of the cynical comments my previous post received arguing against the idea that acts can be selfless and only beneficial to one side.
There was no benefit for our Anonymous Stranger. His act for us was selfless in every way. Our new — albeit unknown — friend did the right thing as a person in the world where Duty is the Moral Imperative and selfless acts are the ordinary expectation of the day. We are forever grateful.