To bee or not to bee? That was the question for the staff at a small London bookstore yesterday after discovering a jar of bees left behind by a forgetful customer in a blue coat. In their search for the elusive "Bee Gent" they unwittingly set the hive mind on Twitter abuzz with bee-related puns.
"Please come back and reclaim your jar of bees," is not something most bookstore employees expect to have to write one day, but for the employees at the London Review Bookshop yesterday was that day.
After finding an abandoned jar of bees on a table in their poetry section the staff didn't have much to go on, only remembering the customer who left the jar as a "friendly gent" in a blue coat.
So they took to Twitter, and in hopes of tracking down the unknown beekeeper wrote perhaps the strangest tweet ever written.
if you were or are the friendly gent (blue coat) who was in the shop half an hour ago and left a big jar of bees on… https://t.co/FV8tVbfASf— LRB Bookshop (@LRB Bookshop) 1552745096.0
Twitter was soon buzzing about the mysterious blue-coated stranger and the search for the Bee Gent was on.
@LRBbookshop We need to comb the area to #findthebeegent— Elizabeth Bower 💙 (@Elizabeth Bower 💙) 1552761945.0
@LRBbookshop @CharlesPPierce https://t.co/pGwRm5Kmru— Joe Fälschung (@Joe Fälschung) 1552752276.0
@JFalschung @LRBbookshop @CharlesPPierce Bey Hive https://t.co/1ziiLi9KdB— Calla 🌼💛🌼💛 (@Calla 🌼💛🌼💛) 1552780443.0
@LRBbookshop @hannahrosewoods Please post follow ups. So many questions— KK Lena (@KK Lena) 1552754433.0
@LRBbookshop https://t.co/nJO4p5qrl3— Slade (@Slade) 1552752171.0
@gutterbookshop @LRBbookshop https://t.co/P8tuoPxHEl— Rockin' Bubbles Rialto Takes Meowhattan 🐈 (@Rockin' Bubbles Rialto Takes Meowhattan 🐈) 1552769633.0
@LRBbookshop https://t.co/MKBi2txgb5— Waterstones Liverpool (@Waterstones Liverpool) 1552764267.0
It didn't taking long before Twitter was swarmed with all sorts of bee-related puns.
@LRBbookshop No doubt part of a sting operation.— Brett Faubert (@Brett Faubert) 1552751212.0
@planetgravy @LRBbookshop Classic honeytrap— Dr Alyson Hunt (@Dr Alyson Hunt) 1552754929.0
@LRBbookshop I saw his face, now I’m a bee leaver— Nick Harrison (@Nick Harrison) 1552758952.0
@LRBbookshop Nice to get some freebees once in a while though eh?— Steve Hey (@Steve Hey) 1552750061.0
And eventually the literary setting inspired many to pen their own poetic odes to the jar of forsaken bees.
@LRBbookshop In London, the home of the Bard, Was orphaned a swarm of bees (jarred). Though often in bonnets, These… https://t.co/7uupLdRJYD— Liberal Limericks (@Liberal Limericks) 1552768915.0
@LRBbookshop A big jar of bees left on the table in the poetry section by a friendly gent with a blue coat, distra… https://t.co/mUZw2leflV— Charles Lambert (@Charles Lambert) 1552748384.0
So far the Bee Gent hasn't returned to the claim his lost jar, but something tells it won't bee long before he does.
@LRBbookshop @StephanieCarvin I’ll “bee” back, he said, as he walked out the door. https://t.co/sm6r5uUzDQ— alexis (@alexis) 1552750118.0
This Story About How A Bunch Of Strangers At An LGBT Bookstore Saved A Closeted Man's Life Is Incredibly Powerful
Kindness still exists, and community can save lives, and that is exactly what happened in a small LGBT bookstore. Sometimes knowing that you aren't really as alone as you feel can make all the difference in the world.
"What is the kindest thing a stranger has done or said to you?"
@TweetChizone shared the emotional tale in a series of tweets.
"Oh God I can't even tell this story and not cry."
"I used to manage an LGBT bookstore, when bookstores were still a thing. One night, a caller says he thinks he might be gay and is considering self-harm. We were not a crisis center! But as long as we're talking, he's safe, right?"
@Nicole_Cliffe Oh God I can’t even tell this story and not cry. I used to manage an LGBT bookstore, when bookstores… https://t.co/chqOdIKJ90— 💁🏼♂️ (@💁🏼♂️) 1551728038.0
He goes on:
"So I talk to this guy and I answer questions, and I try to be encouraging and I'm maybe sounding a little frantic and I'm definitely ignoring the 4-5 customers in the store, and this angel of a woman puts her hand on my shoulder and asks for the phone.
"'My turn,' she says."
@Nicole_Cliffe So I talk to this guy and I answer questions, and I try to be encouraging and I’m maybe sounding a l… https://t.co/J9NLckHFhU— 💁🏼♂️ (@💁🏼♂️) 1551728113.0
"And SHE, this 50-something lesbian talks to this stranger on the phone. And a LINE FORMS BEHIND HER. Every customer in that store knows that call, knows that feeling, and every person takes a turn talking to that man."
"That story comforts me so much to this day."
@Nicole_Cliffe And SHE, this 50-something lesbian talks to this stranger on the phone. And a LINE FORMS BEHIND HER.… https://t.co/AFvGkYYVr8— 💁🏼♂️ (@💁🏼♂️) 1551728210.0
Pardon us while we cry in the corner for a moment.
Twitter users were similarly emotional.
@Nicole_Cliffe @TweetChizone All of these stories are amazing, but this made me sob and call my mother.— Jenner (@Jenner) 1551732338.0
@TweetChizone @Nicole_Cliffe I can't even read this story and not cry...human kindness AT IT's BEST! Wow. I am filled with hope!— AmyinAtlanta212 (@AmyinAtlanta212) 1551793283.0
@TweetChizone @Nicole_Cliffe I didn’t know how much I needed to read this today. Thank you. #IKnowThatStory— K* (@K*) 1551845148.0
Others recalled similar experiences in LGBT bookstores and libraries.
@TweetChizone @Nicole_Cliffe So many of us have found safety or provided care in LGBT bookstores. I hope they neve… https://t.co/O3k9h5ltv3— Nicole (@Nicole) 1551827022.0
@TweetChizone @Nicole_Cliffe Thank you so much for this story! I own a LGBTQ bookstore, and have had similar situat… https://t.co/FY5pJNNn8E— Khalisa (Kelly) Rae (@Khalisa (Kelly) Rae) 1551829694.0
@TweetChizone @DadandBuried @Nicole_Cliffe Haven't been able to stop thinking about this and how independent bookst… https://t.co/VuymQZfpO7— Southernmost (@Southernmost) 1551792698.0
Community brings us together and saves lives. You don't have to be a trained professional to help bring someone back to a better place.
@TweetChizone @AlexanderPayton @Nicole_Cliffe Crisis centers, hotlines, etc. are all important. However, it’s been… https://t.co/1fjCN8ToMQ— Ruben Navarro (@Ruben Navarro) 1551835375.0
It's no secret that suicide and self-harm are major issues in the LGBT+ community; there's only so much adversity a person can face before it starts to negatively affect them. Merely knowing that they are not alone, that there really are people out there who understand them, can make a world of difference to someone who has gotten to that point.
If you are considering suicide, or just need someone to talk to, there are people out there who are happy to listen and want to help.
The Trevor Project provides help to LGBTQ youth. Their hotline can be reached by calling 1-866-488-7386 or texting START to 678678.
The Trans Lifeline is a peer-support hotline dedicated to support for trans and trans-questioning people. They can be reached at 877-565-8860.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also provides support and crisis intervention. They can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.