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I Have Always Depended On The Arbitrariness of Strangers

By Seth Freilich | Comment Diversions | August 1, 2012 |

By Seth Freilich | Comment Diversions | August 1, 2012 |

Ok, so let’s get the comment diversion out of the way up front, in case you get bored with where I go from here and just want to get right to your own business: tell us about your experience with the kindness of strangers. Something awesome a stranger did for you or gave to you, or vice versa.

The reason this came up to me is because I recently took part in Arbitrary Day, a reddit thing where folks basically secret santa each other at a random time of year, just because. According to the stats, this year there were over 10,000 participants, who spent almost half a million dollars on gifts. Last year, Jimmy Fallon gave this fantastic gift:

Anyway, I signed up for it this year, not knowing what to expect. When I got info on the person I was supposed to send a gift to, I did a little online digging, put a gift and some packaging together, and sent it off. I decided to do it anonymously, and so he has no idea who he got his gift from. I was hoping he’d dig it, and it seems he did — he put up a nice post indicating that he was way psyched about the gift and my packaging, so I was very pleased with myself.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my Secret Santa. So two Fridays ago, I get an e-mail from the woman in my building’s leasing office, telling me I have a package. She normally doesn’t send such an e-mail but did in this instance because, “your package looks very amusing, and made me smile.” (Sidenote: this isn’t the first time, and likely won’t be the last time, that a woman tells me my package looks amusing. Such is my life.)

And she was correct:


So when I got home, I was absolutely giddy as I took my mystery box upstairs. Further, there was a fancy envelope in my mailbox from the same address:


My Secret Santa managed to perfectly time delivery of a box and a letter. Right on. Better yet, I opened to box to see this:


A homemade Tardis card? Doesn’t matter what else is in this box, I’m already happy. But, what’s in the box?


But first, there was the card itself, wherein my secret santa wrote:

So, unfortunately for your badass self, you got a 19 yr old girl as your Santa. But I put together a medley of items I hope you will enjoy.

While it’s very sweet that this 19 year old girl thinks I’m a “badass self,” she clearly didn’t do her homework. But I love the idea of “a medley of items,” so let’s take a look at what’s in the box.


Calm down, Detective Mills, I said we’re looking in the box:



As she explained about these gifts in her card:

The sharks were handmade by me, & and the Seattle shot glass is from where I am. The rest are vintage! I got them from a sweet antique shop!

And for good measure, this being reddit and all, one more handmade magnet (oh yeah, the sharks are magnets):


Yeah, unfortunately it broke. But I’ll glue it back together and it’ll be as good as new.

But anyway, those sharks and shot glasses are rad and they immediately got added to the little corner of alcoholic art I have created in my apartment:


All of which is a long-winded way of saying that this random and anonymous 19-year-old Seattle girl got me these awesome gifts that have now become an active part of my living space which I see every day. As the holiday says, it’s totally arbitrary. But it’s also totally awesome.

And so, back to you. Tell us your story of the kindness or creativity of strangers.

(Oh, and for the curious, inside the envelope was an acceptance letter to Hogwarts, with a shopping list. Smell ya later lawyering, I’m gonna go learn me some wizarding!)

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Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.