Katherine Booth was surprised to learn that a stranger she briefly met in the checkout line at Black Bond Books last month had ordered her, and paid for, a copy of a book he had recommended to her. (Contributed photo)

Katherine Booth was surprised to learn that a stranger she briefly met in the checkout line at Black Bond Books last month had ordered her, and paid for, a copy of a book he had recommended to her. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey woman’s ‘faith in the kindness of strangers’ restored after anonymous gift

Gesture that resulted from casual conversation in a checkout line earns vow to pay it forward

A South Surrey grandmother who was recently in line at a local book store has found herself on the receiving end of a random act of kindness.

A few weeks ago, Katherine Booth was waiting in the checkout line – properly masked and socially-distanced, she noted – at Black Bond Books in Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, when she noticed a “chatty” gentleman ahead of her in line, waiting to buy a number of books while “happily discussing the titles with whoever was willing.”

The conversation, which also included a second man behind Booth in line, turned eventually to the book The Boys in the Boat, the non-fiction story of nine American rowers who narrowly won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Booth mentioned that some in her book club had enjoyed the book, and the customer behind her mentioned that he had read it in college. The chatty customer – whose name, Booth later learned, was Richard – responded by saying, “If you liked that, you’ll like this one” and recommended a different book with a similar name: The Boys in the Cave, written by Matt Gutman about the incredible rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a flooded Thailand cave for nearly three weeks in 2018.

As is often the case with casual conversations between strangers, the discussion ended and the customers went their separate ways.

Then, a week or so later, Booth received a call from the book store telling her that the book she had ordered was in.

She informed the caller that she had not ordered anything, only to hear that Richard had ordered, and paid for, The Boys in the Cave. Richard, Booth was told, is a frequent customer at the store, and often buys book for strangers he meets there.

Booth said her husband has taken a particular interest in her new book, and that Richard’s gesture “has restored my faith in the kindness of strangers.”

It also spurred her to pay the good deed forward herself. Booth said she and her fellow book-club members normally do a secret Santa gift exchange every year, but since they cannot meet in person this year – meetings have been held over Zoom lately – members of the club decided to take the money they would normally spend on gifts and donate it to the local food bank instead.



editorial@peacearchnews.com

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