Incarcerated: 15 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, CA
Years ago, I was stationed at Ft. Meyer Virginia, the Army base where the Arlington National Cemetery is. I was discovering who I was and what I believe in. Honor, duty, service, big ideas. I was absorbing many views of life from those around me. One of my friends and fellow soldiers turned me on to the concept of Random Acts of Kindness (RAK). I really appreciated Cindy’s kindness and outlook on life. I started to apply this concept to my life.
My new modus operandi for RAK in 1986 became: buy one Sunday paper and leave one Sunday paper, on top of the newspaper box. I left them in the sun. I left them in the snow. I left them in the dark of night. I started the journey when newspapers were $1.25 a paper and ended when they were $2.50. Buy one/leave one, that was my motto. The Sunday ritual of reading the paper was made even sweeter by RAK. I also recognized that my RAK moments of joy were on the sufferance of the newspaper company. I admit that over the years my joy has been tempered by a wee bit of guilt.
I started this journey in Virginia and took it on the road. Washington D.C., Missouri, Kansas, Oregon, Washington, and California where the story ends. In the intervening years, my wives, all three were witnesses and participants in my RAK spree across the US. I enjoyed every smile and assumed joy that another human being received as they came upon a free Sunday newspaper on top of the newsstand.
One morning, with the kids off to school, Ashley, my partner and I were ready for the bill day. First stop, Summit City, the town where the workers lived who built the Shasta Dam, and the post office. The unspoken anticipation of our shared RAK moment about to happen. We arrive, Ashley hops out with a handful of quarters, and troops to the newspaper stand. She turns and is running back full of glee and shouting my name, “Kevin, Kevin, come quick, there’s a newspaper on top of the box.” As I stood there and gazed at that paper, that glorious paper, I felt the rush of the years pass through me, and warmth spread to my heart and all points in between. My secret wish was finally fulfilled. A random stranger had loved me back.