A Good Feeling to Know

How a random act of kindness by a New Jersey couple restored my faith in humanity.

Once, maybe twice, in our lifetimes — if we’re lucky — we cross paths with someone who is so kind and selfless that they make us stop, take a breath, and say, wow.  I met two such people last Saturday at a rock concert at a Jewish temple in New Jersey.  Sound weird?  It was.  Weird and wonderful.

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Their names are David and Nancy Stone of Short Hills, and they are business owners, pillars in their community and fledgling concert promoters.  To me, they were complete strangers.  But that didn’t last long.  During our brief encounter, they set a land speed record from zero to family in eight hours.

David had read an online posting about my misfortune of traveling a long distance from my home in Washington, DC to see the Richie Furay Band, only to discover that the show had been cancelled.  He took pity on me and emailed me with an invite to be his guest at a concert that he was promoting:   Richie was performing at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, and it would be his last show of the tour.  If I was willing to make the trek, the ticket was mine.

Once the shock wore off and I determined it was doable, I gratefully accepted and hit the road on my maiden voyage to Short Hills.  A 4½ -hour bus ride and a 40-minute train trip transported me to an idyllic setting of stately homes and brilliantly colored foliage, and a night of music and fellowship I will never forget.

David’s colleague Lester met me at the train station, and as soon as we arrived at TBJ, I felt I was somewhere special, among special people.  Maybe it is the jadedness that comes from living in a city of transient career climbers and power seekers that made me appreciate the welcoming I received.  Or maybe not.  Maybe the Stones and their friends just really are special. 

David and Nancy Stone are a combination of party planners extraordinaire, astute entrepreneurs, masters of hospitality, and next-door-neighbors.  Neighbors that are also your friends.  The kind that shovel your driveway without a thought and without your asking.  And they made sure that this woman – whom they had never met – was treated like a VIP.  No detail was overlooked – from the personal introduction to Mr. Furay, to the invitation to dine with the band, to my reserved seat in the front row, to the hotel room they graciously gave me when I decided to stay the night.  As if more was needed, David made sure I left clutching an autographed poster, and Nancy offered to loan me pajamas and a change of clothing for the next day.  Rarely have I encountered such genuine warmth and generosity, given in understated fashion with no muss, fuss, or agenda, from someone I did not know. 

The evening turned out to be an unlikely reversal of fortune for this music lover.  In addition to the concert, which was held not in some ho-hum club but in a sanctuary (how cool is that?), I was treated to a catered buffet dinner and dessert reception and plenty of time to mingle with musicians, crew, volunteers, supporters, and fellow music lovers.  It was light-years better than the cancelled show I’d missed.  The Stones had turned my lemons into lemon meringue.

The next day, on the bus ride back to the city, I reflected on the magical night before and pondered how it had come about: through a simple, random act of kindness by total strangers.  And I leaned back in my seat, took a deep breath, and said, wow.