Like Any Other Day
It was like any other day for Jodi St. Clair, a hairdresser in the Sun City suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. The retirement town has eight golf courses and is usually quiet, and rarely has any surprises in store for the residents. Little did she know, though, a stranger was about to change the course of her day dramatically.
Jodi St. Clair
Jodi St. Clair is a married mother, who is employed as a stylist at the Torio salon in Sun City, Arizona. Besides being a trusted hairdresser to her many loyal customers, she is truly an American who loves her country. Not only does she believe in the ideals of America, such as freedom, but she also likes to watch the football game with a beer on Sundays with her husband. Although she usually has a very positive mindset, on this day, her thoughts were elsewhere.
At around 5:45 PM, Jodi’s last customer of the day came in late. The untimely customer did not come on a good day, as Jodi was anxious to get finished with this haircut, so she could go to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients to make gravy to go with the steak she had defrosting on the counter. To add insult to injury, the rude customer did not leave a good tip. Annoyances at work was nothing compared to the shock she was about to experience.
Recently, Jodi and her husband both really started feeling like their home had become an empty nest. This lonesome feeling made Jodi lose sleep sometimes, which was making it harder for her to go through her day to day life. She was also worried about her sons, who she was so used to taking care of personally, being so far away from home. Although Jodi knew they were technically adults, her maternal instincts could not help but make her worry about them.
Leaving The Salon
After sweeping up the seemingly abundant hair off the salon floor, and putting her scissors and combs into her jar of the liquid, blue barbicide, Jodi said goodbye to the front desk girl, Silvi. As Jodi swung the door open, the coolness of the air conditioner rushed out of the room, and she was immediately hit with hundred-degree dry Arizona heat. As she walked to her car, she worried what the heat would do to her customers’ hair. What she saw next stopped her in her tracks.
What Is That?
Jodi was lost in thought, thinking about how far away her kids were from Phoenix. Suddenly, she stopped as she spotted something on the windshield of her white Kia Soul. She squinted, trying to make out what it was, and she started moving again towards the car, faster than she would usually walk, her keys jangling as she sped to almost power walking. Jodi’s mind raced, and as she got closer and saw what it was, she started to swear at nobody in particular.
Slip Of Paper
The windshield of her car had a piece of paper stuck in the windshield. Jodi started to curse as she thought the police left her a ticket on her wiper. Exasperated, Jodi swiveled her head back and forth to check out the area by her car: what color was the curb? Was it white or yellow? Is there a sign she didn’t see? She questioned her parking as she scanned for areas for clues of which law she might have broken.
Although Jodi understood at some level that the police were simply doing their jobs enforcing the law, which she respected, it was a bad time for her to get a ticket. She already had a couple of points on her license, and her insurance rates had jumped up sharply because of that. Since she could not find a sign with the parking rules, she thought perhaps the ticket would explain more. Maybe, she hoped, that the cops had made a mistake. She looked closer and saw something curious.
It looked like the ticket was not a ticket at all, but actually the opposite! Instead of taking her money, it looked like it was a piece of paper with a twenty dollar bill sticking out of it. Although she was relieved it was not a ticket, she was not fooled by Andrew Jackson’s face peeking out from the paper. Jodi thought, wow this is, “great advertising,” as she’d seen plenty of fliers that used the fake money trick to get people to check out their flyer.
Jodi reached and grabbed the paper, rolling her eyes with annoyance at the extra little garbage she had to carry around. As she got the paper in her hand, she slightly crumpled it, getting ready to turn it from advertisement to trash. However, when she felt the paper and the twenty dollar bill, it turned out it was real! Thankfully she had not accidentally ripped the bill when she snatched it from under the windshield wiper. Was this money the rest of the tip from her last client?
Curious, Jodi put the cash aside, and uncrumpled the note. She unfolded it, wondering who this could have been from. What she read was so dumbfounding, she had to read it again, straight away. After reading the letter twice, she took a moment before bursting into tears. The letter was a complete shock to her system as it was totally unexpected. All she was going to do was go to the grocery store, and now she was sobbing, standing by her car in the Arizona heat.
The note referenced her car, specifically the stickers she had in her rear window. On the back of the Kia Soul, right beneath the top brake light, was one sticker saying “My Sons Defend Our Freedom” and in the center is the star logo of the US Army. The other sticker is along the same vein; it reads, “Proud Parent Of A Soldier.” These two stickers were something a stranger noticed, and decided to leave a letter on the car that was so powerful it left Jodi in tears.
What The Note Said
The letter opened, “Dear ‘Proud Parent:’,” referring to Jodi, who put the sticker on the car. The writer of the letter says, “I pray for our military around the world every night, especially those serving in dangerous areas or in one of our wars.” Jodi related to this very strongly, as she prayed daily as well for the safety of her boys in fatigues. She was immediately gripped by the letter. One thing was confusing, though. Why the twenty dollar bill? The letter went on to explain.
What The Note Said Part II
Jodi read on, and it answered all her questions about the twenty dollar bill she was clutching in her other hand. “Please either send this $20 to your Army Soldier for a meal,” the letter instructed, but “if he/she is in the Middle East, either use it to buy a care or comfort kit, or save it for his/her return.” Jodi looked up from the letter, misty-eyed, and imagined her boys needing some candy while on base.
USO Sponsor Shelley
As Jodi looked at the letter, she could not move. Upon closer inspection, the paper on which the note was written on was a specific stationary that said “USO Sponsoring Member.” The USO is an organization that helps create a “home away from home” feeling for soldiers far away from the US. Clearly, whoever wrote the note was involved in helping soldiers in general. Jodi looked to the bottom of the letter, and it signed off with, “Godspeed,” and named the author, “Shelley.”
Jodi was quoted as being terribly thankful for the note and the monetary donation. It was “pretty amazing” to Jodi that “somebody took a moment out of their day to share comfort.” It truly turned her day around, as it made her feel that her struggle as a military mom was understood by this anonymous Shelley person. At the very least, the time difference between her and her sons caused her much stress, and this small note helped relieve it a little.
At A Time When It Was Needed
Jodi also indicated that the short letter came, “at [a] time when it was needed.” Besides the rough day she was having, the loneliness and fear for her boys’ safety were messing with her sleep. Since the note, though, she realized that she is not alone in her struggle. Jodi says that Shelley’s “random act of kindness made an amazing impact,” on her life and mindset. One day, Jodi hopes to meet Shelley in person to thank her face-to-face.
Jacob St. Clair
The eldest son of the St. Clair family is named Jacob. He is stationed far from his Arizona home, in South Korea. As of 2017, there are 37,500 US soldiers on the Korean peninsula, on 83 separate military bases. They are there with the backing of hundreds of M1 Abrams tanks, and other, more secretive equipment. The US also has many troops (more than in South Korea) in Germany and Japan. The soldiers are there to, “deter [North Korean] aggression and, if necessary, defend the Republic of Korea.”
Daniel St. Clair
The younger St. Clair boy, Daniel, is also in the Army, stationed in North Carolina. Although he is stateside, that does not mean it is any easier for Jodi to have him away from home. The biggest Army base in North Carolina is Fort Bragg. In fact, it is the most populous military base in the world, as 50,000 soldiers are on duty there. Besides for the Pentagon, this is where a lot of the top brass generals spend their day to day life.
Looking online, you can see many videos of military kids coming home to surprise their families for the holidays, whether it be by simply showing up at the door, popping out of the trunk, or even at football games (disguised as players). These tear-jerking, heartwarming homecoming videos were a favorite of Jodi’s. She would watch them sometimes when she could not speak to Jacob, as the time difference kept them missing each other. Seeing these videos made Jodi yearn for the day when her boys would return.
When word got out about the note that was left on St. Clair’s car on social media, it caused many emotionally-charged reactions. One Facebook user wrote that “every soldier and … their families put [their] lives on hold every day to protect us! I say families of soldiers … [as they] back their loved ones who choose to protect our country.” The person concluded by declaring, “God Bless You All from the bottom of heart and soul. Thank You, now it’s our turn to protect them!”
People React Part II
The reactions not only simply acknowledged military families, but also promised to help. “I have always appreciated our Military but I commend this person for what they did for this family … I am certainly going to think about it and step it up on my own effort to thank our military men and women and their families.” An ex-military person commented to show some support as well, saying, “Thank both of her sons for their service. [from] one vet to another, thanks.”
The USO, the non-profit organization that Shelley supports, is famous for bringing entertainment to soldiers overseas. They bring famous singers and comedians into war zones to alleviate some of the stress of the war. As the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” Huge stars of today like Louis C.K., Robin Williams, and Stephen Colbert have traveled to the Middle East to entertain the troops. This is a tradition that was largely symbolized by the efforts of Bob Hope, who has done a whopping 57 USO tours.
Supporting The Troops
There are many ways that even regular citizens back home stateside can support the troops overseas. One major way to take direct action is to put together a care package for needy soldiers. They need many things, like gift cards, hygiene items (like chapstick and deodorant), magazines, candy, and tobacco. Soldiers need these packages, as some bases “stopped the re-supply of candy and snacks at our dining facility, due to budget cuts and mission needs.” Sending these packages is a way non-famous people can help the troops.
Make An Impact
The important thing to learn from the story of Jodi St. Clair and Shelley is that you can make a massive impact in peoples’ lives with very little effort. It likely took just a couple of moments of Shelley’s time to have an effect on St. Clair’s life. Acts of kindness that you are capable of can, “make hard days a little easier,” according to Jodi. Spending some time or money to help the 300,000 actively deployed soldiers and their families is easy and well worth it.