Small Stories for a Big World: August 2016



When I was at the age at which you start losing baby teeth, I saw the Tooth Fairy one night.

I was lying in bed looking out the window at the night sky when I saw the Tooth Fairy come right up to the window. I turned away quickly, because I was afraid that, if the Tooth Fairy saw me looking, the fairy wouldn’t come in. I rolled over and hid my head in my pillow.

I had no doubts about the fairy being able to fly through the glass, but I did wonder how the fairy would get the quarter through the glass. When I woke up the next morning, the tooth was gone and the quarter was there.

Because of that experience, I believed in the Tooth Fairy long after I had stopped believing in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. They might not be real, I thought, but I saw the Tooth Fairy.

In my early 20s, I lived in an apartment in San Francisco that had a ghost living in it. Over time, various roommates came and went. Sooner or later, pretty much everyone would see her. She was a benign presence, so she didn’t scare anyone, and people who had been living there wouldn’t necessarily think to mention her to someone new. At some point, the new person would say something about seeing a ghost. We would laugh and say, “Oh yeah, everybody sees her sooner or later.”

In more recent years, I sometimes feel as if we also share our world with angels whose job it is to help us out from time to time.

From time to time in my work, I find myself in large groups filled with people I don’t know. For the story I’m going to write, I need to talk to some of them. Often, it doesn’t particularly matter who I pick, though. I skip obvious grumps. Other than that, my choice is “random.”

Regularly, it turns out that I ended up talking to just the right person. Later, I sometimes wonder whether something more than luck was involved—whether I was guided to that person. It has happened enough times that chance doesn’t come close to accounting for it.

It happened just the other day at an event that had 300 participants. Early on, I spoke to one woman who shared her thoughts about what was up. As soon as I spoke with her, I relaxed because I knew I had a great way to start my story. Later, I thought, “If I had spent all day talking to people, I couldn’t have found anyone better.”

A few days after that, I experienced another variation on an angel lending a hand. I had an appointment in Davidson at a place where I had never been before. I had an address, but that was it. When I got to the place where I thought I should be, I stood in front of a featureless locked door. No sign. Nothing.

I went to a coffee shop a couple of doors down and asked a man in line for help. He was quite pleasant in saying he had no idea what I was talking about. The woman right in front of him turned and said, “I can tell you exactly where that is.”

Her directions took me right there. When I found the place, it was clear that, without her help, I could have looked and looked and looked and still never have found it.

I felt grateful for the woman being right where I needed her.


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