What’s to Like About Rockford: The Kindness of Strangers


My monthly series on Rockford, originally created to help persuade my husband that Rockford isn’t so bad after all, has focused on places to go, things to do. When it comes to the “do and see” in Rockford, I haven’t even scratched the surface.

But this particular post is long overdue. It’s the one where I tell you about Rockford’s people. And not the ones who are close to my heart, they travel with me wherever I go, whether I’m in Rockford or not. No, it’s about the people who’s names I don’t know, who’ve reached out to me during the thirteen years I’ve lived here.

Rescue Angel #1. In the spring of 2012, I locked my keys in my van while buying gardening supplies at a nursery. I was due to pick up my kids from school in 10 MINUTES! Panic doesn’t even begin to describe my state of mind. A woman, a stranger, also shopping at the nursery, observed my distress in the parking lot. She offered to drive me to pick up my kids from school and bring me back to my van. She offered for me to use her cell phone to call my husband so he could meet me with the spare keys. I took her up on her offer. We only exchanged first names. She wouldn’t take any gas money from me, only my heartfelt thank you.

Rescue Angel #2. In the summer of 2001, I locked my keys in my van at the post office (oh shush, there’s an eleven year interval, it’s not like I do it ALL THE TIME). The lady at the post office let me borrow her car, drive to my husband’s work to get his house key, so I could drive home and get the spare van key, then drive back to the post office. Wow, right? I didn’t ask if I could. She offered. She would’t take any gas money either. Although I wrote her a thank you card later ’cause I knew where this lady worked. PS, she doesn’t work there any more, so I’ve kept her privacy.

But wait, there’s more. The woman who got out of her car in high heels and helped push my car up the icy hill. The man who cheered my daughter when she was inconsolable after falling in the parking lot. The man who held my hand when we both pulled over on the side of the road after I ran over the raccoon and I cried. Whoever keeps paying for my coffee in the McDonald’s drive through (I just go ahead and pay for the next car’s). This post could go on and on.

The point is . . .

I expect this behavior from my friends, my family, the neighbors who know me, the people at my church, my colleagues at work, current and former students . . . not from strangers who’ve never seen me before and will never see me again. Aren’t they supposed to be, oblivious? Jaded by high unemployment, runaway property taxes and miserable weather? But, no. Spirit is something the statisticians don’t measure.

So thank you Rockfordians, for your kindness over the years. I think I’ll stay a while longer.

Photo © Irina Brinza