A kindness paid forward


To the Editor:

I thank Dick Carlson and Lou Johnson from the bottom of my heart for the ride to my car at the Park & Ride in Vineyard Haven.

Wait. A letter about a ride? Well, it is a letter about a ride; but mostly it’s a letter about old-fashioned generosity.

After two grueling work days off Island, I’d arrived at the steamship in Woods Hole. Exhausted and sporting a pulled hamstring, I boarded the freight boat, only to find it was going to O.B. I had used the Park & Ride in V.H. Knowing that this now meant I’d end up taking two buses to my car, I saw the familiar face of Matt Tobin. I screwed up my courage and asked him for a ride, but Matt’s truck was full up, and he suggested I ask someone else. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone else on the boat.

Standing outside on the deck, the word got around the starter was broken and they’d have to replace it. During our wait the ferry arrived.

Delirious with fatigue, I said out loud, “I’ll see if I can get on the ferry and get into V.H.” I was told the ferry was going to O.B. also. A gentleman overheard me and said, “No, that’s wrong. The boat is going to V.H.” I asked another crew member. “No, O.B.,” was the answer. The gentleman apparently had an old schedule which had just changed that day.

Resigned to the two buses, I did the “Island thing” and began chatting to a group of people. One man from Concord who used to live on the Island offered me a ride, but the man with the outdated schedule said, “He lives in Edgartown. I’ll make room in my car and take you to V.H.” I couldn’t believe my luck. Two rides in as many minutes. This surely was the way people did things “back in the day on Martha’s.”

Sadly, fate was to douse my short-lived joy. It was announced that all walk-ons were to go to the ferry as it was unsure when the starter would work. It had now been almost an hour since we boarded. Thus, with trepidation, I left my friendly rides. As if to add insult to injury, we were on the ferry all but a few minutes when we witnessed the freighter taking off from the dock. I could but lean my weary body against the rail and watch my ride sail off. It was a full 20 minutes later that we finally departed Woods Hole.

Arriving in O.B., I started limping my way up that long pier. I stopped for a second, thinking I’d fall down from the rush behind me. I had to muster my resolve, saying to myself, “Okay, suck it up and get to the sidewalk.” Surrendered, I pushed on, watching to see if a bus was coming.

That’s when I saw a woman walking toward me with this big smile.

It was the woman who had been with my ride. Bewildered, I burst into tears as she said, “Don’t worry, Dick is here waiting to take you to your car.” I couldn’t stop crying as I walked to the car waiting in line. I didn’t even know their names, which I learned were Dick Carlson and Lou Johnson. In between saying thank you like a broken record, they told me that Matt had shared his dinner with them as the vending machines were bare, and they thought they would pay his kindness forward and wait for me on the ferry. They had waited another 30 minutes for a complete stranger.

If you’ve ever been bone tired and in pain, you know the depth of my gratitude to Dick and Lou. Not only were they saving me more than an hour of added travel time, they were reminding me of what drew me to M.V. long ago. “Back in the day,” generosity such as this used to be a common event on-Island. Today, it’s often different here as people go on about their busy days.

But Dick and Lou took the time to be thoughtful. They paid it forward with a kindness that was already there inside them. And for that, again, I am so so grateful. I’m going to try to look them up and see if we can meet again, just in case they didn’t hear me say thank you.

Kathi Pogoda