Last Sunday I found out that Annette from the gas station had passed away. I just keep thinking and thinking about her, and about how strangers can make meaningful impacts on your life.
In early January 2019, I was at a random gas station in rural Florida when I locked my keys and my cell phone in my car. It was dark. I was hours away from anyone I knew. I started crying.
“Are you okay?” said a kind stranger named Annette.
You can read the full story on my blog here, or in my book, but essentially, Annette took the situation in hand. By hook or by crook, she was going to help me get back into my car. Even if it meant asking the stranger at the other end of the gas station if he’d lend us his tools. Even if it meant borrowing duct tape from the lady who worked behind the cash register.
Before long, a small group of people, all strangers to each other, were working together to solve the problem of How To Break Into Emily’s Car. And in the end, when we succeeded, we cheered like it was New Year’s Day or a hometown football victory.
Annette gave me her phone number. “If you ever need anything, you can call me,” she said. We texted a little bit…not much…but we did become friends on Facebook. I always thought that if I happened to be driving through her area again maybe we’d grab coffee or something. And when my book became available for pre-order, she promoted it on Facebook.
But last Sunday I got a Facebook message from Annette’s mom. “Have you heard about her death?” she asked.
Annette was murdered by a man she barely knew. She was so young, only 24, and had two small children. Cruel beyond words. It makes me think that the world is a terrible place, except that when I was alone and vulnerable it was a safe, kind place, because of Annette. And that seems so unfair.
My interaction with Annette was very brief, but I know two things about her: she was kind, and she knew how to solve problems. And those are two traits that I deeply admire.
Rest in peace, Annette, and thank you for making the world a kinder place.