An outlet for kindness

librarySo a man was sleeping in the chair in the corner of the library, but the other chair was empty. I needed to charge my phone, but the outlet was over there, on the rug, by the book stacks. I moved the chair four feet or so and plugged in. A guard came and said, “You can’t move the furniture.” I said, “But the outlet is here. Maybe you could leave a chair near it?” She said, “No.” I said, “Why?” She said, “Those are the rules.” I moved the chair back and then sat on the floor by the outlet. The guard came back with a bigger guard. The bigger guard said, “You can’t sit on the floor.” I can’t make this stuff up. I left, feeling bad about people and society and rules and everything. I went two blocks away to Starbucks, got a cookie, and plugged in. I thought the story was over. A little while later, a man came up to me and said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I saw what happened to you in the library. You did nothing wrong. They were wrong — I’m the one who should have gotten in trouble because I was the one sleeping.” We talked, shook hands, introduced ourselves. We said goodbye by name, see you soon. And it somehow all felt good now, how a pesty experience in a bureaucracy gone berserk turned out to be an outlet for kindness. How I made a new friend.

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