For Instants

Forget Everything Your Mother Told You About Strangers

A few months ago, I headed to Best Buy for a new hard drive. I was stressed about pretty much everything and after looking through about 50 different hard drives that looked exactly the same, I picked one at random, bought it and kind of power walked out the store, head down, into the street. I paused for a second to figure out where I’d left my car, and as I stood there looking frazzled and probably a little insane, I met Tyrone. He was selling Street Sense but he didn’t ask me to buy anything, he just asked me how I was doing. We talked for a while about things strangers don’t usually talk about – what it’s like to live in DC, our lives, our health, family, the things that worry us. And I just couldn’t believe how positive he was about everything. His positivity made me feel positive during a time when I really needed it. And I wanted to thank him.

Toward the end of our conversation, Tyrone mentioned two hopes for his life: to learn how to play guitar and find someone to write his life’s story. He told me how someone had stolen his guitar a few years back when he was living in a motel and how he hadn’t been able to afford another. As I drove home I called around my musician friends, asking if anyone had a spare guitar. A few weeks later, I got a text from my friend Jason saying he’d found one.

And this is what happened:

I have never in my life seen someone so appreciative. The first picture is a bit blurry because he was bouncing around and laughing for about 5 minutes straight. He showed it to everyone who walked by, “Can you believe it? MY OWN GUITAR!” then he started singing James Taylor and playing random chords. It was easily one of the best moments of my life.

These photos are part of The Present Company Project (to be introduced later this month – please stay tuned!)  Thank you so much to Jason and his friend, Jenny, for donating the guitar and to Middle C Music for replacing its missing string for free. If anyone is interested in Tyrone’s story and would like to fulfill his second hope, please email me!

Film: IMPOSSIBLE‘s Silver Shade.

All photos © Amber Mahoney.

  • Bree Ryback

    i STILL get goosebumps everytime i read this story. Tyrone is an inspiration and so is Amber for capturing it through her Present Company project. Get it girl, so much love xo

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      YOU RULE. Thank you so much!

  • Keri Straughn

    Such an amazing story! Amber is such an talented and inspiring person, only she would be able to come up with something as incredible as the Present Company Project. I can’t wait to see more! <3.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Ahhh KERI this made my day! THANK YOU.

  • Elizabeth Polit

    This is beautiful. Such a touching story.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you so so much!

  • Jonathan Mahoney

    TYRONE! This story is so amazing…cannot wait to see Present Company build beyond DC. There are so many people out there, and so many opportunities to meet strangers!

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Oh HAI husband. Thank youuuu!

  • Amanda Knowles

    Amber, you are amazing. And Present Company Project is such a revelation. Rock on.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      !! Thank you! xo

  • Jordi Blythe

    I don’t think there is anything more amazing than giving. You’re awesome. What an incredible feeling.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      I agree COMPLETELY. Thank you so much!

  • Deanna Staffo

    fantastic photos and even better story to go with them!

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      HUGS. Thank you so much!

  • Diana Ribeiro

    Beautiful and touching story :) As a grown-up, sometimes I find it difficult to talk to stangers, due to all my childhood admonitions. I wish I didn’t.
    I truly hope Tyrone get his life history written down, I’m sure it will be a good one :)

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you so much! And GIRL me too. Strangers are intimidating!

  • Brittany Woodell

    That’s lovely :)

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney


  • Caitlin Brohm

    doesn’t it feel amazing to bless people!?

    thank you for doing this, you changed his life!

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you so much! <3

  • Catrina Huskey

    Love this!

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you!

  • Jen Georgeff

    That’s so awesome! Not going to lie, I’m all teared-up at my desk :)

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      You are so sweet. Thank you so much!

  • Chelsea Francis

    This story is so, so great. I hope you all find someone to help write his story!

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you! ME TOO. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s awesome…just the few stories he shared with me were amazing.

  • Montana Chris’an

    Reading this just gave me chills. The best things in life are what we do for other people. Amber, this just so incredible. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Ahhh thank you so much! xo

  • Christen Parker

    This is such a beautiful idea. I can’t wait to see more of the photos from this project.

    • Amber Byrne Mahoney

      Thank you so much!

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