I was unable to post yesterday but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We are at a friend’s beach house near Bodega Bay and I drove around in the foggy dark last night looking for an unsecured internet connection to upload my post. A few houses had lights on, and I could see people inside laughing and sharing a meal. I had my laptop on the seat next to me and drove very slowly, looking for the telltale sign of a network connection. It was so dark and so foggy that I thought I could easily drive right over the cliff, and I pretty quickly decided to abandon the effort and headed back to the beach house. This morning I am sitting at a small bakery with WiFi. Here’s yesterday’s story:

Janet at work

We left San Francisco this afternoon for a couple of days at a friend’s beach house near Bodega Bay. We stopped for groceries in Petaluma at Whole Foods and I could feel the C-note in my pocket. It didn’t seem too likely that I would find the recipient for my 22nd hundred in the store, so I was planning to stroll through the parking lot and adjacent area after we finished shopping.

I was a bit hungry, so I stopped for a couple of the samples that were being offered. Some kind of tofu dip, then dried gogi berries and mulberries. These were getting a hard sell: “they’re organic, sustainably grown, fairly traded, and full of vitamin C and reservatrol! Everything you would want in a mulberry!” I wasn’t disappointed, as I’ve never thought much about mulberries. But they were chewy and pretty tasteless.

A woman was passing out cups of fat ravioli, green and red. People were gobbling them up, which is sometimes a good sign. I stepped up to the table and the woman turned her bright eyes on me. “You’re here!” she said.

“What?” I asked, thrown off guard.

“I was waiting for you to come!” she told me. I was startled. “Really? Why?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she said mischieviously . “I just wanted to say that. But I can tell you are a very open person.”

She handed me my ravioli with a smile. I thanked her and then stood there for a minute. We were looking at each other, just kind of soaking each other in. Something clicked in my head and I said, “Guess what. I’m going to blow your mind in a minute.”

“Oh! I can’t wait!” she said.

I stepped off to the side and ate my ravioli while she helped a couple of other people.  She looked expectantly back at me and I got closer. I started to tell her my story and she offered her condolences. When I put the $100 bill in her hand, she gave out a yelp. “Oh, my god! What a blessing!” She gave me a hug, saying into my ear, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I really am.”

She told me her name was Janet and she’s a dancer.  She said she just (just) lost a part-time job and is doing the sample thing till she finds another way to make ends meet. She said the money would help a lot. “You just did the right thing at the right time,” she said.

Janet said I could take her picture and she wanted to know all about the blog. She hugged me again and said into my ear, “I can’t wait to learn more about your mom.”

Gina would love that part! Amazing, simply amazing.

Beautiful Janet

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17 Responses to She’s a Dancer

  1. kris gardner says:

    Wow, i can’t tell you how much i looked forward to your stories, and will be dissapointed when the come to an end. 🙁

  2. I’ve just come across your blog and read every single post! What wonderful stories and what a wonderful idea. I love the feeling I get when I help someone who isn’t expecting it so you must be getting such a buzz from this!

  3. Cindy Thomas says:

    Another incredible post, Jill. Thank you for who you are and for sharing these experiences with us. I gotta tell ya, this one really touched me as I was in my home, no more than a mile or so away from this Whole Foods Store, when you committed this kind act. It gives me chills to think how close I was to you when you did this. xoxo Cindy PS Hope you’re having a fantastic time in my neck of the woods 🙂

  4. meri says:

    Just read the article in the Oregonian and all your blog posts. What a wonderful idea. This entry just really sticks out to me…sounds corny, but some of these just sound meant to be. Best wishes on the rest of your journey, meri

  5. Michelle says:

    I love what you are doing to honor your Mom. I was reading our local Sunday paper on-line and saw a link to the article about you. I immediately read many of your blog posts. Your descriptions of how you connected with each person you met reminded me of how each person who comes into your life, even for a few brief moments, is there for a reason. You put a big smile on my face on this gloomy, rainy Sunday morning in the Northeast.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Michelle, New Hampshire

  6. Jamie says:

    Just read my Sunday paper and loved hearing about your journey. A couple of years ago, I decided to get a tattoo. Not really my style, but I really wanted just one thing on my body for life, one that I wrote in my own handwriting. It’s a simple word and one that I live by – karma. Today I looked at it and thought of you. I’m glad you’re in the world touching people with kindness, inspiring others to do something unexpected and growing and changing in your own perspectives as well…your mother would be so proud. On behalf of everyone out there – thank you, we are all grateful for moments like this.

  7. Your blog is reading like a hard to put down novel, only the characters are real, and you endear them to me. Not only are their lives “richer” for receiving the c note, but I am sure yours is too for having found these strangers. Even if we can’t hand out money, we can still give away our smiles a kind word or some kindness.

  8. Dawn McElreath says:

    I have to say, after coming home from a Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society Summit, learning of your blog has been even more inspiring. I haven’t gotten to read all of your entries yet, but I will. Your story of stepping into the world of the unknown and giving a gift that isn’t always trusted is brave and very respectable. I have a story of my own I thought might be inspiring to you…(maybe) My fiance, our newborn daughter (about 1 week old) went to a local restaurant to enjoy some breakfast together. With a brand new baby and being a full time college student we were pretty strapped for cash, my love Arron thought we could benefit from taking a moment to enjoy each others company without having to be in the kitchen or tending to our new beautiful baby girl McKenzie. We were laughing and googling at each other and our baby girl (adoring her sweet little face and feet). Their was a gentleman that had been sitting some where in the restaurant close enough to share the same server. He had mentioned to the server that he would like to purchase our meals as he settled his own ticket. He left without us ever knowing who he was, or providing us the chance to deny the gift, or just to tell him thank you. My daughter has just turned 5 years old at the end of September, and Arron and I can recall that day so clearly today. The feeling that warms my heart knowing that gentleman didn’t know who we were but thought that we were a very sweet family, and felt driven to provide for us is priceless. I believe that if we live a life of giving we are getting more in return then that of someone who is receiving. Cancer has taken some of my family and friends, and other loved ones have managed to win the battle and survived. I will continue my journey raising money, working hard, and listening to the stories that continue to drive me towards assisting to find a cure. In short I find your journey towards helping others very inspiring for my own journey to help others. THANK YOU!!!

    • Dawn- Thank you for this wonderful story. It seems like there are a lot of people out there just looking for an opportunity to do something nice! It is sweet that you remember this so perfectly after five years. That man had no idea he would make such a big impact on you! Thanks for reading. Best wishes- Jill

  9. Chris says:

    Hi Jill,
    I too read the article about you in the Oregonian today. Perhaps your giving is taping into the collective unconsciousness 🙂

    This week, I was behind someone at the local grocery store, when after her food was bagged, she had to step aside to make a phone call. The clerk canceled, and rang up my purchase. I asked the clerk if she was short on money to pay, and he said yes, so I had him ring her’s up with mine. It was only bout $19 extra, but worth a $1000 in how fun it felt. I rushed out, but the lady caught up to me to say thank you, we exchanged some sincere smiles. A few years ago, I knew what it was like to have to check with the bank, and add up the food in the cart before being checked out, making a decision between light bulbs or cheerios.

    It was also fun to come home, and not tell my husband or anyone about it. It was a little private secret, somewhat the way I felt when I could sneak out to do something fun but forbidden as a teenager.

    You are inspiring so many people to do good things, and such a wonderful way. Thanks for your stories and for passing on the love.

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