The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on November 25, 2010.

It started with a last-minute cancellation, and ended with another one. But what happened in between was a gift, and Thanksgiving seems like the perfect time to acknowledge it.

I had two meetings scheduled half an hour apart on a recent morning. I scheduled them both for a nearby café, and brought a book with me to read during the time in between.

My first client had an emergency situation come up, and called to see if we could reschedule. After I got off the phone with her, I debated going home for a while, since I now had an hour and a half, rather than half an hour, till my next meeting. I decided not to sacrifice the time it would take to drive there and back. Instead I would just enjoy the extra reading time.

I was sitting next to a window, and at one point I looked up from my book and saw a woman walking toward the building. The next time I glanced up, I was surprised to see she was still outside. She was talking on her cell phone, and she seemed upset. Her hand was shaking as she wiped some tears away. I found myself wondering what was wrong, and wishing I could do something to help.

Common sense told me that it was none of my business, that she was a grown woman who could handle whatever the problem was, and that she probably wouldn’t appreciate my intruding. But I ignored common sense, left my book on the table, and met her at the door just as she was putting her cell phone away and coming inside.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” I told her, “but I couldn’t help seeing how upset you are. I know I’m just a stranger, but is there anything I can do?”

There wasn’t, really, but she thanked me for my concern. She had gotten some bad news recently, and her phone call had been unsettling. She was on her way in to work and needed to compose herself, so I let it go at that. I offered her a hug, which she accepted, and then I went back to my table.

A few minutes later, I looked up to see her standing next to me. 

“I just wanted to thank you again for what you did,” she said. She told me that a close friend of hers had just received a grim medical diagnosis, and that was the main reason she was so upset. We chatted for a few minutes, then she thanked me again and left.

 Just then I got a phone call from the person I was waiting for. He had sent me an email early that morning asking if we could reschedule our meeting, but I was already gone by then and never saw the message. After we confirmed a new date, I packed up my belongings and left.

 While I was driving home, I thought of how odd the morning had been. I could have seen it as a total waste of time, since both of my meetings got cancelled. Instead, I saw it as a gift of time, both for some reading I wanted to do and for the opportunity to offer a bit of comfort and concern to someone who was sad and worried about a friend. It felt to me as if God had put me in that particular place for a specific reason. And that’s a very good feeling.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful, as always, for my family, my friends, and all the blessings in my life. But I am also grateful for small acts of kindness and support. The kind I can give to others and the kind I receive from others, whether they are close friends, casual acquaintances, or total strangers. Each one is a gift, and I treasure them all.

© Betty Liedtke, 2010