78: The Skirt

78: The Skirt

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness

The Skirt

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~Marcel Proust

“Excuse me, would you please tell me where you got your pretty striped skirt?” I was addressing that question to an attractive young woman I had spotted standing eight people away in our cruise dinner line. For months, I had searched for a long skirt with the stripes correctly sewn together to create perfect chevron points, but all the ones I had found were mismatched in the sewing. The stripes on her skirt had perfect chevron points… so, I had to ask.

“Why, yes, of course. I bought it two weeks ago at Kohl’s near Santa Clarita.”

I thanked her and returned to my place in line.

Two nights later I spotted her again. She was a karaoke contestant on the ship. And, she was wearing the same skirt.

With a voice like a professional, she sang “Memories” from Cats. After the contest, I rushed over to compliment her, and also handed her a little note:

When you remove your skirt tonight, will you please call my stateroom and give me the SKU number on it, so I can easily find it when I shop? I’m in Caribe 245. Thanks…

She read it, smiled, and said, “Sure, I will.”

For several more hours, my roommate Marilyn and I roamed the ship enjoying the variety of shows.

It was getting late so we headed toward our stateroom. “Don’t forget to get tomorrow’s news out of the rack by our door,” I reminded Marilyn.

At our door, she reached toward the rack. Suddenly, her hand paused, frozen in mid-air. An amazed look spread across her face. Reaching into the rack, she removed an object, and handed it to me. It was the skirt!

I was stunned! A woman I had just met on the cruise had given me her new skirt, and I had no way to find her! Then it dawned on me. She said she’d leave the SKU number on my phone. I rushed into our stateroom, but the phone was not blinking. There was no call…

Now, I had a true dilemma. We were on board with over 3,000 other passengers. How would I ever locate her aboard such a large ship? During that sleepless night, I came up with a plan.

In the morning, Marilyn and I went to the main desk. “Excuse me, young man, will you please help me locate a passenger on the ship? It’s very important that I thank her; she gave me her brand-new skirt.”

I seemed to remember her name announced as Meredith. But his search found no passenger aboard with that name. So, I tried another tactic. “The woman who introduced the karaoke contestants called herself Carla. Will you please look up your employee named Carla?”

After searching through 2,100 employees, he found a name with Carla in the middle. “That’s the only Carla we have on board,” he said.

“Please tell me where I can find her.”

“She’s introducing another act in the Explorer’s Lounge tonight at 9:30. You should find her there.”

“Thank you so very much. You have been a tremendous help.”

At 9:15 p.m., Marilyn and I entered the lounge. Carla was there.

“Carla, please help me find karaoke contestant #8, who sang “Memories” the other night. She gave me her brand-new skirt, and it’s urgent that I thank her.”

Carla smiled. “Yes, I remember her.”

Now, at least, I had a contact. “Please contact her and ask her to come to my stateroom so I can get her address, and send her a gift.”

“I’ll do that,” she said, hastily scribbling down my name and stateroom number.

A full day passed. It was now Friday. Had Carla been able to pass on my message?

We’d be back into the home port on Saturday, and I still had not found my benefactor. I was becoming worried that I’d never be able to thank this benevolent stranger.

That evening, we were ready to leave for dinner. There was a sudden knock on our door. I opened it and there stood the subject of my search!

With a hug, I swept her into our room, thanked her profusely for the skirt, and asked for her full name and address. She demurred, saying she wanted nothing in return, but I insisted. Under my continued urging, she finally wrote it down. Her name was Jennifer. And there was a big howl of laughter when she told us her stateroom number. She had been only two doors away from us the entire time! And the missing phone call? She had called and left her message, she said, but perhaps she had misdialed.

“I’m in the karaoke finals tonight,” she added. “Will you come down and vote for me?”

Again she sang “Memories” in the contest, even more beautifully than the first time. Despite strong competition from a talented tenor, Jennifer won. We were thrilled, and rushed up to give her hearty congratulations.

After she left, Marilyn and I were finishing our drinks. A waitress came over carrying a large bottle of champagne, with only one drink already poured out.

“Here,” she said, “we won’t use this anymore tonight. Take it back to your stateroom, and enjoy.”

We accepted it, with the perfect plan as to where it should go. Approaching Jennifer’s stateroom, we tapped on her door. When it opened, we handed her the bottle.

“We brought you some champagne. Now you can toast your karaoke victory!”

She laughed in surprise, and gratefully accepted it.

Once I returned home, I shopped for that just-perfect necklace and matching earrings — sparkly turquoise — to coordinate with the dress Jennifer wore in the karaoke finals.

A week later, she called thanking me for my gift; we chatted at length, really got to know each other, and have planned to stay in touch.

So now I not only have a lovely striped skirt to wear and enjoy, but I also have a wonderful new friend — all brought about by her remarkable, and totally unexpected kindness.

~Kay Presto

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