The Kindness of (Almost) Strangers

It’s a weird time right now. That’s a massive understatement, but it is certainly true. Under these straining and foreign circumstances, I have been trying to be kinder to everyone. I see a lot of my friends both from real life and online also echoing this sentiment, and I hope it is a lesson that we internalize. It’s been a weird almost four years, a divisive one, a flabbergasting one, and the universe decided to just double down here in 2020. Kindness matters a lot – especially when many of us are searching for any sort of anchor in this storm. It can make your day, with something as simple as a knowing smile and wave. We need to remember that this feeling is important even once we are past this current kerfuffle.

As a card trader, I’m no stranger to kindness. Whether it’s a prearranged trade or a surprise, every packet of cardboard I receive in the mail is a morsel of it. This year, back when it appeared that we might still have baseball* in the coming weeks, I chanced into a few cool cards through some of my kind friends on Twitter. That included the two swell Justin Verlander variations you see here. The nameless 2019 Gypsy Queen card came from Robb (@Brewers792). We’ve swapped previously, and he messaged me to offer this up, and we struck up a deal. We’ve conducted another since, which I’ll cover here in a few days.

The other Verlander here came from Mark (@delspacefranco), a fellow collector who is always posting delightful vintage trades on Twitter. I’d spotted this mentioned in a tweet and reached out to him. I don’t have oodles of vintage to send his way, like some of his trading partners, but I did have a nice little stack of Yankees for him. This 2020 Heritage piece is not only a high-number SP, but also an action variation, so it is greatly appreciated.

* I’m starting to feel more and more certain that we’re not going to have any season in 2020.

My trading has pretty much ground to a halt, what with the pandemic and ensuing layoff. There’s just not room to spend any extra funds on cards at the moment, and that includes even just postage to conduct swaps. There were a couple PWE trades already in the works when the news came down, and I carried those to completion, but I’d otherwise figured that I was in for a dry spell for a good while. So I was pleasantly surprised to find an envelope from Commish Bob, The Five Tool Collector, sitting in my mailbox today.

But wait – this didn’t make any sense! Bob had already sent me two packages this year, neither of which has made it up onto the blog here (both will quite soon, rest assured). Now, the second one was predicated by him finding a card missing from the first, but still, those had arrived merely two weeks ago. Hmmm, I thought as I opened it, what could this be?

The note itself was a pleasant surprise, with well-wishes for a job interview that I had on Friday morning, which I had mentioned on Twitter – and then I looked at what was hiding behind the note.

UH, this was certainly unexpected! Bob’s “found this for you” item was none other than a bonafide Wilbur “Bill” Brubaker autograph on a ’70s index card! Holy moly! I was genuinely in awe. Hunting down an autograph from my third-cousin-twice-removed was something I figured I’d accomplish at some point – I’d even listed it in the White Whale column over on the sidebar. But this was much sooner than anticipated.

There was even a slip of paper with an early “COA” upon it. Bill’s name and Obed’s signature on the left are in ink, the rest is a photocopy. So I suppose I need to thank early TTM champion Obed Lewis here as well. Finleyville, PA is south of Pittsburgh, in Washington County, and Obed’s house is still there.* It would have taken him about 20 minutes to drive the 10 miles to my grandparents’ house. It’s also about 17 miles from Washington, PA, home of the independent Wild Things of the Frontier League. Their original logo and design work was done by the son of my grandparents’ neighbor.

* well, a house is still there.

Many, many, many thanks to you, Bob. This was a delightful bit of kindness which was very much needed around here. If that baseball season does happen, I owe you a game and a beer, at the very least.

Oh, and if you’re curious: the interview went rather well. It was mainly a screening call from the company’s in-house recruiter, but she felt strong enough about my qualifications to assure me that I’d get another interview this week with the hiring manager. Merely hearing back from a company about a prospective interview lifted a gigantic weight off of my shoulders. As I said at the beginning, it’s definitely a weird time. I wasn’t sure if any of my applications were being viewed, or if I was just firing them into the void, so it is very nice to know that people are still hiring.

Stay safe, wash those hands, and stay inside. Just play with your baseball cards or something, the time will fly by.

4 Replies to “The Kindness of (Almost) Strangers”

  1. Good luck with the job prospect. Rooting for you.

    As you know, there is a package from me waiting to head to you. Things will have to calm down but it’s all but out the door.

    1. Thanks Greg. And I certainly understand. Don’t rush to the PO any sooner than you need to on my account. I’ve found a few more things for you here as well.

  2. Good luck with the job hunt. It’ll come up soon enough, and then we’ll all rebound when this is over. Stay safe and positive!

  3. I feel ya with the kindness of bloggers, especially during these crazy times. Seems like a number of people are doing giveaways or making extra efforts to trade more.
    With that being said, I’m sure I could find some Astros for ya if you want to do so trading. I mainly collect Rays and Tigers.

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