The Kindness of Strangers

I’m not sure whether it’s a positive trait or a negative one that I’m so trusting of people. New people I just meet. Strangers. Even Craigslist people become friends. (I know. I know. I watch the news.)

I know better. I was raised differently. But when someone posts on Craigslist that they have an entire 200-year old barn that they want to give away for free, AND it’s en route to where I work in VT, of course I’m going to check it out and go on a random road trip to see if this really was legit or just a wild goose chase.

It started like something out of a horror movie. Girl drives alone to a remote part of upstate NY to check out an old barn on a property of someone she’s never met. Her cell stops working as she drives up to said property. The old house next to the dilapidated barn is boarded up, but cars are parked in the grass, indicating someone…at least one person, is around.


I admit. I was fearful. There was no number on the mailbox, so I didn’t even know if I was at the right house. (Apparently, there are many old barns in Saugerties, NY on this road, making it hard to pick out the right house.)  It would have been easier to intentionally drive past and get to the cabin early. But then I thought about all of the things I’ve missed out on because I lacked courage. My alter ego surfaced at that moment and I skipped up the steps and rang the doorbell like a girl scout selling cookies as if her troop’s lives depended on it.

Then. THEN. The sweetest couple opens the door and proceeds to tell me a little bit about the history of the place. And tells me to take whatever I want. And wonders where the rest of my construction crew was. “Uh. It’s just me,” I say, trying to sound confident in my demo skills.

This barn was amazing. I wanted to take the whole thing with me. Just attach the main beam to the back of my truck and putter up the NY Thruway with an entire barn in tow.


Alas, there is only so much barn one can take when alone.




I made two trips. I am now the happy owner of three original barn doors from the 1800’s, wide barn planks, a ton of tongue and groove narrow oak planks, and so much more.



In a day when many people are just kind to others because they want something in return, this reminded me that there is still so much good in this world and that not everyone is out to use someone for his/her own benefit. This kind couple showed so much generosity to a stranger – a girl who took a crazy road trip to get old wood they didn’t want. They were generous to entertain a young woman’s dream, even though bigger companies were in line to get the wood before and after me.

After I got to VT, I felt like a kid on Halloween who spread out all of her candy to survey her stash.


I am a big believer in paying it forward, and love doing RAOK’s. Because of this couple’s generosity, I wanted to make something out of their barn wood for their farmhouse that they are in the process of renovating. A small “thank you” that I’ll leave on their front porch when I’m back up there in a few weeks, next to the vacant space where I explored and dreamed in a historic barn that is now completely demolished. None of the wood in this piece has been painted or stained. It’s all of the original colors from the barn. History is preserved. Even the green piece with the drawer pull was found exactly as is, only it’s been cut down to size for this table.


We can search and search for validation from those we love for what we do, but sometimes it comes unexpectedly from those we just meet.

It’s never ceases to amaze me how much impact just one person believing in you can have on your day.  Or your life. It’s kindness like this – of people taking a chance on a podunk artist – that propels me to keep doing what I love.

And doing what I love makes me so happy.

(But in the future? I will not be meeting Craistlist strangers alone in the middle of nowhere.)


Barn wood end table: priceless




About Mel

My name is Mel, and I spend my time living, working and playing on the east coast. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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