Words of Wisdom from a Stranger.

Share one of the best gifts you’ve ever received.

I’ll never forget the notecard left on my doorstep along with a bouquet of a dozen red roses. It shocked me as a young 21-year-old. My first bouquet and words of wisdom written from a sailor that had just graduated from bootcamp. I’ve saved the notecard all these years.

I was driving my Volkswagen along a scenic drive when I spotted a young man hitchhiking. Not prone to picking up hitchhikers, something told me to pull over. He was hitching back home to Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, after graduating from bootcamp. He was carrying a large cylinder knapsack and couldn’t have been older than eighteen.

But he wanted to be dropped off at a local bowling alley before getting back on the freeway for which I obliged. Later that evening out of the blue, he called my apartment and asked if he could spend the night before leaving the next morning. Throwing caution to the wind, I went to retrieve him, and he slept on my couch. Next morning, he was gone and when I opened the front door there set the flowers with a notecard attached reading, “It pays to be nice.” Rick.

I wondered, and still do, how he got those flowers to my doorstep without a car. Did he have them delivered? No idea. I also wondered how he got my phone number to call me. He must have been very self-sufficient. I also wondered why I let a mere stranger spend the night in my apartment. I must have been very trusting; albeit it was a time before Ted Bundy’s reign of terror. It was a time of innocence.

These small words of wisdom together with my mother’s old adages like “nothing ventured, nothing gained” (which has landed me many jobs over the years) and the Golden Rule have been the best gifts that have helped me through life.

To this day whenever I drive along scenic Highway 395 passing Mount Whitney, I think of that young sailor boy and wonder how he turned out. I also thank him for his wise-beyond-years gift of advice. I’ve tried to instill his words in the raising of my own sons and think I made an impression.


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