The Water of Human Kindness

I think I blogged about this a few months ago, but when you run an independent bookshop, people bring you stuff.

Last night I came home to a small pile of laundry on a chair in our shop’s front room. We try (and fail) to keep personal clutter upstairs, out of the shop zone, so Jack followed my displeased look and smiled.

“That wasn’t me,” he said. “J and D were in, and she said I looked cold, and went out to her car, and brought me this spiffy hoodie.” He held up a dark blue, thick and new-looking jacket. “And she said she bought those two undershirts for her husband, but they were too small so she thought of me.” Jack donned the jacket and instantly looked like a Scotsman in a hoodie (aka silly).

Awhile ago, a friend walked in and presented us with a door mat. On it a kitten slumbered atop a book pile. “Saw it in a catalog, knew you had to have it here.” She wouldn’t take any money for it.

Last Sunday, just as Quaker meeting was breaking up, the father of a hunting duo–no matter what season, they come in camo, deer jackets and ammo-logo-bearing ball caps–appeared with a sagging plastic bag in his hand and a smile beaming from his face. The smile faded as he saw the quiet, dignified people just getting up from the worship circle, and he tucked the bag behind his back.

I ran over to him. “Hi! It’s ok. We just finished. Come join us for lunch.”

Shaking his head, he held out the bag. Something dripped onto the floor. “This is what I brung Jack. Jus’ tell ‘im I brung ’em.” He held out the bag–which my hand seized in Quaker compassion before my brain recoiled in squeamish girly squeals and off he went.

Inside? Five whole trout, still in river water. We feasted that night, with fresh asparagus from another friend’s largesse.

It happens all the time: “made brownies and thought y’all would like some”; “my mama loved this baby doll but I just don’t have a place to display it and it’ll look nice on top of a book shelf”; and Jack’s personal favorite “me and the boys just finished the latest batch. Label this so nobody mistakes it for water.”

That not-water came in pretty handy about a month ago when I was going down with a sore-throat, watermelon-head thing. A gargle each morning, three days running, and I was right as rain. Water. Which that was not.

We love running a community bookstore.

Jack and Wendy leave Tuesday for Istanbul. While they’re away, members of the proud and secretive GGG organizations will be writing the blog. When Jack and Wendy return, there will be pictures and travel stories and silliness, oh my, but while the Guerrilla Grammar Girls have control, there will be side-splitting, coffee-spitting guffaws of laughter. Enjoy!

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5 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, small town USA, Uncategorized

5 responses to “The Water of Human Kindness

  1. “The “water” of human kindness runs deep and wide. I think you are receiving payment for gifts of the heart that you and Jack have already distributed.

  2. Cant wait to see what the GGG writes. And Wendy, you had to leave 2 days before we come down to see your mom and dad! Will try to see the bookstore anyhow. Have a great time.

  3. My dear, long gone, grandmother out here on the mountain would mix a bit of honey and lemon juice with that “water” when we littluns coughed…..She wondered why we coughed so often!

  4. Becky

    Great story as usual,We all love you two very much and enjoy doing thing for you because you both are very special..

  5. jlberger

    Dear Wendy,

    I loved your book, but I have sometimes wondered about some of your blogs…

    Of course, one can’t have a hit, all the time.

    However…this one is in the wonderful category, because it reminds me of how wonderful average people can be, if inspired by something – like your bookshop – which is obviously good, and which, obviously, adds a previously-unknown dimension of knowledge and friendship to your community.

    Good stuff!

    Jim Berger

    Ex-pat American (raised in, and escaped from, Tobacco Road eastern NC)

    New Zealand since 1987

    P.S. I owned a bookshop, here in NZ, for a few years, so can identify with a lot of your comments!

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