The Heroes in the Shadows


This week, I shared two stories — Wednesday’s and Thursday’s — about ordinary people who found extraordinary ways to help others in their communities in need. The hero of Thursday’s story isn’t nearly as extraordinary as the one in Wednesday’s, so it isn’t surprising to me that only a small handful of you wrote back about that story. The Wednesday story, though, I was inundated. A dozen people wrote in to say this was their favorite Now I Know to date, a few people saying it even brought them to tears. I didn’t mean to make anyone cry, but I do appreciate that it resonated!

A few years ago, in one of these Friday emails, I wrote that I was intentionally looking to share stories like these. I don’t think I need to articulate why. But I’ve found that these stories are really hard to find. There are a lot of people online sharing a lot of stories, but we tend to share stories that lean more to the sinister than we do the uplifting. Perhaps that’s just the human condition, or maybe that’s something accelerated by our hyperconnected world, or maybe the old local news adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” is right but for other reasons. I don’t know. 

In any event, I’ve long wanted to change that, at least as best I can. So if you have stories of regular people doing heroic things — even if simple — please send them my way. Last week, I mentioned one in the longreads section at the bottom of the email (this story, to save you a click), so even if what you share isn’t something I can use for a full Now I Know story, there may be other ways for me to spread it.

How? Easy: Just reply to this email or any other Now I Know email. It comes from a real email address, one I check once or twice a week (or sometimes every two weeks). I read every email sent to me (but I reply to few), so rest assured, if you write, I’ll likely see it.

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Valentine’s Cards You Don’t Want to Get: Anti-Valentines, I guess?

Tuesday: The Very Short Flight You Couldn’t Even Take: A loophole that really isn’t great, and probably just overall bad for everyone.

Wednesday: The Fake Witch Who Saved Dozens of Lives: See above.

Thursday: The Judge Who Intentionally Sent an Innocent Man to Jail: See above again!

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “He Donated His Kidney and Received a $13,064 Bill in Return” (ProPublica, 9 minutes, February 2022). The title alone should sum up the problem.

2) “It was the most successful Jewish ad campaign of all time — but who was the model?” (Forward, 13 minutes, February 2022). The ad is for Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread, and it resonates with me in particular because there’s usually a loaf (well, part of a loaf) of Levy’s in my house, and if not, it’s certainly on our shopping list. 

3) “Does the ACT have a coastline? It’s complicated” (Wrong Borders, 9 minutes, November 2021). The ACT is the “the Australian Capital Territory,” per the writer of this article, which likens it to Washington D.C. — a federal enclave that isn’t part of any other state or territory. And it’s inland, so it shouldn’t have a coastline, but maybe it does? Maps are weird and coasts are weird. Thanks to reader Robert M. for sharing this one!

Have a great weekend!