Santa Barbaran’s Random Act of Kindness Goes Viral

Erin Nicole Smith Helped a Stranger, and Now She's Famous Across the Internet

Erin Nicole Smith left this note on a Ventura Beach tree over two years ago, but it was picked up this week by an online aggregator and is now all over the web

Not everything that revisits from the past returns to haunt us on Halloween. Sometimes, it’s the spirit of the good we do for others.

A few days ago, Santa Barbara musician Erin Nicole Smith’s cell phone began ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Almost 400 calls in two days.

Every time it was a different number. And not local ones. She was getting called from all over the country.

At first, she answered. But whoever was calling would either hang up or, if they said anything, ask her an usual question: something about her having their skateboard. Smith was stumped. The phone calls kept coming. She blew most of them off.

Then, an area code from Iowa. For whatever reason, Smith decided to answer. “Hello?” she asked. “Oh my God, you’re real!” gasped the woman from the cellular ether. “You’re an actual human being!”

Smith was glad to hear from someone other than a crank caller. Now she could put an end to the mystery. And it all had to do with an act of kindness on behalf of Smith and her friends over two years ago.

“We talked about the note,” said Samantha Thompson Viers, the woman from Iowa who spoke with The Santa Barbara Independent by phone. “Why she left it on the tree.”

The note was in fact a piece of cardboard tied to a tree in a Ventura beach parking lot. Smith and some friends left it after they came across an unattended surfboard. “A Channel Islands,” said Smith. “Like brand new.”

They decided to take it and leave a note. Just in case. Smith said she wrote her number because she was the oldest one of the group.

About three hours later, Smith said the rightful owner called. It turned out his family knew the family of one of Smith’s friends. Arrangements were made and later that night, the board found its rider.

Good deed done, Smith and friends moved on, but left the note behind. Smith was shocked that it was still there.

But during the phone call with Viers, she had some news. Viers hadn’t seen the note itself, but a photo taken of it and posted on the web. Someone instagrammed it when it was up on the tree and posted it, somewhere, on the web.

From there, it’s all but impossible to tell how many times it was passed on but it was out there, a snapshot of kindness floating in the Inter-Void. Smith’s call beckoned to the world, but was left unanswered.

Then an aggregator at the website found it and posted it and other images in a montage titled “These 20 Photos Are Going To Make You Cry, But You’ll See Why It’s Totally Worth It.” And that’s when people started sharing it.

“The article is going viral,” wrote Davey Smith in an email about his daughter’s unusual experience. “With over 1 million views and over 180,000 shares on Facebook as I type.”

Back in Iowa, Viers said a cousin shared it with her. But she wanted to know if it was legit. So she called Smith, whom Viers described as “really nice and funny.”

The two are now Facebook friends and the pic is still up on the World Actuality site, which doesn’t have any contact info other than a Facebook link. At this time, the site hasn’t returned a request to answer questions about the posting.

And as for Smith, she’s okay with more random calls. At least for now. “My voicemail has a message about my band and our website, so if all this gets even 10 people to like our music, it’s worth keeping my number for at least another week.”


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