One year for lent I decided that instead of giving something up, I’d do one nice deed for someone each day. I did well for the first week or so, but then I kind of made stuff up as the days went on. Like, “I said ‘thank you’ to the T driver, so that definitely counts as my good deed.” I found it surprisingly hard to go out of my normal routine to find a nice thing to do.
But one day, I was the recipient of the ultimate act of kindness, and it was something I will never forget.
The year was 2009, I was still living in Boston, and my good pal Brian and I went on one of our regular dates to the theater, because spending time together working at a theater meant needing to go out and enjoy it once in a while. Per usual, we opted for the lowest priced tickets to see The Color Purple at the Wang Theater. Now the Wang is one of the largest, oldest, and most majestic venues in Boston. Marble, chandeliers, and epic staircases – actually, we had our commencement in that very theater.
Anyways, we made our way up to the balcony – not the complete nosebleed seats – but high enough. We got settled in, looked through our programs, noticed LaToya London from S3 of American Idol was in it, laughed at that fact as one would, and I broke open my bag of CVS peach ring candy that I hid in my purse.
Just as Brian was reaching across and into my lap for the prohibited candy, a man came up to us asking if we wanted tickets to sit in the orchestra. B and I looked at each other quizzically, then at the man the same way. He was tall, dark, and handsome, yes, in a cliche way. He had a great smile and I asked if he was serious. He said “Yes, absolutely. Come follow me down and I’ll explain.”
Obviously the appropriate response to this was to follow the good looking stranger down, because we clearly won’t be killed just before watching The Color Purple, as I assume people have some courtesy when it comes to uplifting African-American musicals. As he was walking us down, he nodded to the ushers to say, “They’re with me,” in an extremely VIP way. I looked behind me at B and gave him the “WTF” face and responded with a “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON, BUT I LIKE IT” face right back. Theater Angel, as we dubbed him, led us down to the orchestra, probably about 10 rows from the stage, which you know cost the big bucks. He guided us to our seats, sat us down next to this pretty woman who turned out to be his date, and said, “Good seats, right?”
Um, yes sir. He explained that the first time he ever went to the theater was with his mother as a kid. They couldn’t afford expensive seats, so they always sat in the balcony, where the cheapo seats were, aka where we were sitting. But it was that first show that made him fall in love with theater. He continued going to play after play, made a career out of his passion, and now has become successful in the industry. Theater angel said, “One time, a man came up to me and offered me tickets to the orchestra. It changed my life. And I promised myself, that when I had enough money to buy not one pair but another pair of tickets, I would go up to the balcony and give a couple of people the opportunity I never had growing up, and sit near the front next to all the action. I’m paying it forward.”
I could’ve cried right there and then. But I had to keep it together, and could only mutter out thank you over and over again, just as the lights were dimming for the show to start. I remember we used our box office skills to find out his name via the ticket stubs, and we found our guy. Basically, he turned out to be some big shot theater producer, so clearly he had enough money to use on us.
I’ll never forget our theater angel, and the extremely random act of kindness bestowed upon us that day. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I will absolutely bring some crazy candy munching theatergoers up to the good seats. Because who knows, one random act of kindness might actually change their lives.