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Random acts and other musings

How the unknown stranger bought me coffee. Pay it forward, say I.

I was the beneficiary of a random act of kindness recently.

I popped into Safeway to get a coffee at the Starbucks on a Wednesday morning, but the barristas wouldn't take my money. Some stranger, they told me, had come in earlier for a coffee, gave them a $20 bill and asked them to buy coffee for people as they came in.

It wasn't so much the free coffee as it was the random act of kindness that put me in a good mood heading into work. So thank you, whoever you are.

Kindness is not as uncommon as we might think. I believe it is part of the basic human make-up (though perhaps cruelty is as well). But the "random act of kindness" is a recent cultural phenomenon, or "meme."

The concept was started in the 1980s by Anne Herbert, a San Francisco-area artist and activist, who wanted to create a parallel to the term "random act of violence," so often in the news. But what started out as a campaign, almost a piece of performance art, has now become something we humans can do, as part of our social and community behaviours. It shows there is in fact hope for the world.

Now I'm going to do a random act of kindness too, but I'm not saying what it is!

* * *

I had the privilege of having dinner at Heidi's Restaurant on Saturday, March 2, the restaurant's last night of operation.

Restaurants in towns like ours are like homes away from home. The food and beverage business is a tough business, and restaurants come and go. I still lament the passage of some of my favourites — Casa Della Pasta comes to mind.

For me, Heidi's was always a place for the special occasion, and on that somewhat historic Saturday night memories of dinners and lunches past rolled through my mind.

I consider it another sign that the world is headed towards ultimate good that Heidi's will soon be re-opening in a new exciting guise as a restaurant/brewhouse. So thanks, Heidi and staff, and good luck in the coming months, and we'll see you next with schooners in our mitts.

* * *

So, after a slow (and I mean oh so slow) start, those pesky Kootenay Ice have clawed their way into a playoff spot. Now they are busy defending it. Not bad for one of the youngest rosters in the league. I didn't make it to Saturday night's famous "Pink The Rink" game, but I did go see the Ice play the Rebels on Friday. An exciting, tough clean game. I predict here that the Kootenay Ice will make the playoffs this year, cause havoc, and next season will be the team to beat. So head on down to the West-Fi — there's going to be some exciting hockey being played as spring rolls around.

* * *

Speaking of the Kootenay Ice, I noticed that of the 15 seasons they've played in Cranbrook, there are two main consistencies. One is the fact that they've always made the playoffs. The other is that their goal-scoring song has always been Stevie Ray Vaughn's "House is Rockin'" ("When the house is a-rockin', don't bother knockin'").

Sports is an immediate, in the moment thing. Players come and go. Records are set and broken. Some teams say "there's always next year." But Stevie Ray and his guitar are one of the throughlines of the Ice's Cranbrook history.

The great Stevie Ray died tragically in 1990, only a few years after making the electric guitar and the Blues universally cool again. The fact that he comes roaring over the loudspeakers when a goal is scored — quondam et futuris carmen — is one of the many great things about the WHL in Cranbrook.

* * *

I made a sandwich one morning last week, sliced it in half, and wrapped it up flat. Then for ease of packing, I decided to stack the halves on top of each other. Then I changed my mind again, deciding that flat was better. I automatically went to hit the  "command-z" shortcut on a computer keyboard to undo the way I had wrapped the sandwich. I actually spent a full second and a half unconsciously trying to hit "command-z," and when I realized there was no computer keyboard under my fingers, I spent a further second and a half being confused.

Is technology reprogramming my brain for me, or is dementia setting in? Or maybe this is the first step in my invention of a machine whereby I can use a computer to make my sandwiches. (They can put a man on the moon, but they can't get your computer to make your sandwich!)

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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