“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Some say apologies to Tennessee Williams may be in order because the line exposes the frailty of the character. Others, however, say the line simply sums up how Blanche has chosen to deal with the harshness of her life.
I use it because it sums up what I choose to take away from these events.
As authors, we work very hard, writing and rewriting and fine-tuning plot points. For many of us, it involves giving up what little free time we can scrape together in order to pursue the joy we get from the written word.
The smiles, encouraging words and excitement we get when someone asks us to sign a book, when someone gushes about how proud we should be to have accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting published—are the reward.
And occasionally, we DO depend on their kindness, as was the case this past weekend when we held a book signing at River Run apartments. We arrived too early and since it was the weekend, there was no office to let us in. Three very nice ladies sitting in the lounge must have decided my 85-year-old mom with her cane and my 87-year-old dad lugging heavy boxes were probably not an immediate threat to safety so they let us in, out of the cold. They were cautious, but once we explained that we were there for a signing, they offered words of encouragement, tried to locate the newsletter that should have announced the signing, talked to passing residents long enough to find out that a notice DID go out.
And one dear lady just pulled out her phone and called the weekend answering service and explained the situation (I had tried the same thing and gotten nowhere. She must have been more forceful—Ah depend on the kind…niss of strangers!).
As it turned out, the event had been set up, donuts from management arrived from another dear lady on her scooter, who helped to set them up, and the signing went as planned. It wasn’t heavily trafficked but we sold what we considered to be a successful amount. However, it was not that few dollars you make at a signing that made the event a success. It was how very nice the people were, how encouraging and excited to find out that we had written a book. It was the German lady (a teacher) who chatted with us for many minutes and gave me advice to pass along to my daughter, who is pursuing education in college. It was the woman who had pulled out her phone in the first place and her companions from the lobby, who sat through much of the signing and grabbed hold of passing friends. It was one of those passing friends, a gentleman who stood and recited his inspirational poems, and it was the woman there to meet up with her mother but who ended up booking us for her mystery club. It was also everyone who—even if they didn’t buy a book—offered smiles and kind words.
That is the kindness of strangers.
Thanks to River Run residents and their kindness.
Genilee Swope Parente