Random Acts of Kindness: Generous stranger added to surprise of engagement

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My family, my girlfriend, her parents and I went to the Hofbrauhaus on Jan. 5 to celebrate what my girlfriend thought was my birthday dinner. Everyone in our party knew I was going to propose to my girlfriend, except my girlfriend!

The hostesses on duty that night and the manager were very accommodating when my mom and sister explained what I was trying to accomplish. The entertainer on duty that night was Bob, who was great when calling attention to other peoples' birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Then he called my name and asked me to come up on stage with him for my birthday. Once on stage with Bob, one thing led to another, and we got my girlfriend to join us on stage, as well.

Before you knew it, I got down on one knee and proposed. Everyone gasped! Then, happy birthday to me, my girlfriend said yes! The whole restaurant went wild with hooting, hollering, more drinking, cheering and many well wishes showered upon my now-fiancee and me.

But the most generous, big-hearted, genuine Pittsburgh congratulations came from the bearded, middle-aged gentleman and his wife sitting behind us. As he hugged me and my fiancee and wished us the best of everything, he placed a $100 bill in my hand!

My fiancee and I are still in awe of this gentleman. It was an act of kindness that stopped me in my tracks. I did not get his name. Maybe I did but forgot with all the emotions swirling around us.

I am humbled by his generosity and hope he, his wife or the people they were with that happy night of Jan. 5 are reading this. You will always be part of our engagement memory.



Plenty of people rallied around robbery victim

If you are going to have your purse snatched, there is no better place to have this happen than Squirrel Hill.

Visiting my hometown from England, I got out of my rental car in the Giant Eagle parking lot. In an instant a tall guy in a gray hoodie appeared in front of me, snatched my bag out of my hands, almost taking my finger with it, and raced up Beacon Street.

As I screamed "Stop him! Stop him!" I saw my bag containing my two mobile phones (one for the U.S., one for the U.K.), my credit card, my debit card, my husband's debit card, my driver's license, our camera, the umbrella my friend had just given me in New York, the darling gold purse I had bought for my stepdaughter's wedding 10 years ago, and the little satin box to hold my engagement ring (still on my finger) disappear between two houses.

Within seconds, here came a stranger named Gary -- St. Gary, as he is known in our house -- dialing 911.

"I saw that guy before," he said. "He got out of a gray car near the top of Beacon. He'll get back in it -- watch."

We stood on Beacon waiting for the man in the hoodie to reappear as Gary talked to the 911 operator.

"There he is!" Gary shouted as he snapped a picture of the gray car's license plate as it took off toward Shady Avenue. God bless camera phones.

The police screeched into the lot and took the info while Gary worked out with them how to email the photo and blow it up to get a good look at the plate number. He gave them a much more detailed description than I could have. It occurred to me this Pittsburgher was going well beyond the call of duty.

"What's your name?" I asked. "Can I have your contact information?"

"Gary -- that's OK, I just wanted to help."

Then he was gone. The Giant Eagle manager came out to ask if I was OK, and then took the police inside to see if the store's cameras had picked up anything.

My brunch date helped me get a replacement phone from T-Mobile. Barry from Squirrel Hill later called a friend's number listed in my U.S. phone to report that he had found the phone on the street. He asked where he could return it, and my friends offered to get it for me and to give Barry cookies as a reward.

My brother and his wonderful family gave me dinner, gas and cash. And friends lent me money and sympathy so I could fly back home to the U.K. to tell the story. I am so thankful to the people of Squirrel Hill for all of the help.


Birmingham, England


Has someone done you right? Send your Random Act of Kindness to page2@post-gazette.com, or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. First Published February 21, 2013 5:00 AM


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