ONE OF THE GAMES we played at the TAO (Totally Awesome and Outrageous) Humor Center on Vacation Lane in Arlington, VA, was called Small Subway Gifts, Anonymous. Yes, we were on Vacation Lane, and we were between the Pentagon and the CIA, and we were the Pink Flamingo Clowns!
In order to play the game, you had to purchase a very small gift, wrap it really pretty, and put a note on the bottom, “If you found this, it is for you!” Then you wrote a note, pretending you were the finders Guardian Angel. In the note was to be encouragement and thanks for all the love and beauty that they (the finder) are bringing to earth, also mentioning that their good works are known and appreciated by the angelic kingdom. Then you’d take a trip on the subway and hide the gift either in the subway station or on the train itself, making sure you were not caught!
Sometimes we would get together and wrap the gifts and write the notes, and then each take a few home and have them all ready for the next trip on the Metro System. It made riding on the subway quite fun and challenging, because there was practically no place on the train itself that could be an unseen place. One time I left a gift and hurried to the exit, and someone said, “Maam, did you leave this?” I turned around and hurriedly said, “No, that’s not mine,” as I exited out the door to get lost in the crowd! Technically, I was right. It was NOW the finders! Not mine! That’s the only time I got caught!
There were quite a few phases to this game. When the bomb scares in the D.C. Metro system started people were afraid to leave packages, thinking they might get arrested! So we switched to pretty cards in an envelope with a tiny bow and stickers. However, the anthrax scare incidents happened, and we decided to leave gifts in places of transportation but above ground. The Union Train Station, Greyhound Bus Terminal, local bus stops, and covered parking lots worked well for our purposes.
One Saturday, four of us went together on the Metro Red line into Silver Springs, Maryland, each taking a few envelopes with notes that had already been prepared. We got to the end of the line and had one envelope left, so we put it on a seat. Since it was Saturday, we discovered we would have to wait 30 minutes for the next train. We decided to get on the same train, and we happened to get on the same car. There was the envelope still sitting on the seat. We quickly decided that we would watch to see what happened, and we sat opposite the seat, watching through the reflection in the window.
Soon, a beautiful, well-dressed young woman of color appeared, saw the envelope, picked it up and sat down. As the train left the station, we could see her open it up and all the hearts of confetti fall onto her skirt. She spent quite a long time reading the note, and appeared to wipe some tears from her eyes. Then she slowly picked the hearts up, one-by-one, from her skirt, and put them back in the envelope. She sat quietly, appearing to be lost in deep thought.
We got off the train before she did, and were glad to have had that experience. I happened to know who wrote that note: Peggy, who was not with us that day. I don’t know what the note said, but I never felt that these notes were random. I always felt that somehow the Perfection of the Universe already knew who would receive the gift and note, and it would be the perfect note of encouragement, love, and thanks for that particular person, on that day, at that place. It was a blessing to experience being an unobserved watcher of the NOTE being found. It encouraged us to continue playing The Game.
[Written, March 22, 2010]