Fort Worth

Friendship Between Strangers Starts on Fort Worth City Bench

Sometimes a view from above, makes it easier to reflect on what's important below.

"So normally, we're just down here, you can see the corner of 5th and Throckmorton," Nicole Hibbert said while pointing out a 39th-floor office window in downtown Fort Worth.

"He's going to be so excited," Nicole said.

She's preparing for her favorite lunch date.

"Normally I get him a ham sandwich, but today I'm going to order him -- I think I'm going to get him a roast beef today," Nicole said, while ordering Potbelly sandwiches online. "Here's his strawberry shake. Extra strawberries."

It's a date that's happened twice a week for three years.

"So he's gained like 30 pounds, and you'll see him, he's no bigger than a minute," Nicole said with a smile.

He is Clifford Brown, who takes a bus into downtown Fort Worth to sit on a bench at 5th and Throckmorton nearly every day that the weather is nice.

After seeing him day after day, Nicole, who works just a few blocks away, finally decided to stop by his bench and say, 'Hello.'

"There was just something about him -- a kindness in his eyes and his face -- that I wanted, I was drawn to, I wanted to get to know him," Nicole said.

"Okay, here we go," Nicole said to Clifford as she walked up to his bench with her hands full of food from Potbelly. "Do you know what they did for you over there? They made you a birthday cookie."

It's an early celebration marking Clifford's 89th year of life.

"It says, Happy Birthday Mr. Clifford!'" Nicole said, opening the box to show him. "I won't sing to you, I promise. I sang to you last year. I won't do that to you again."

"Yeah, you did!" Clifford said with a laugh.

During their twice-a-week lunches over the past three years, Nicole and Clifford have become close friends. They chat about the changes happening all around them.

"That's going be that new Marriott," Nicole said ash she pointed up to the Fort Worth skyline.

They also talk about Clifford's sport of choice.

"Brooks is a pretty good golfer," Clifford said.

"You started playing when you were 15! You know a lot about it," Nicole said.

Clifford said he started to work as a caddie when he was a teenager, and had to retire in his late 70s.

"Because when you're little that bag drags the -- it drags the ground," Clifford said with a laugh.

Their friendship is one that formed with a little bit of effort over a long period of time.

"It's always good to see her because I know I got a good friend," Clifford said.

"Having a friend like him, I look forward to it. I just love him and I know he loves me," Nicole said. "He is just so full of wisdom and he brings me such joy."

Now, among the office pictures of her husband and her children, is a picture with her dear friend and favorite lunch date.

"That was Mr. Clifford's first selfie ever," Nicole said.

While Nicole has taught Clifford how to take a selfie, he's taught her about friendship.

"You know, you learn to notice people and love people, because they have so much to offer," she said. "Every single person has so much to offer and that's what I've learned."

And it all started because she took the time to stop by his bench and say "hello."

After this story aired on NBC 5, Potbelly Sandwich Shop's CEO reached out to Nicole to offer an incredible gift. Potbelly gave Clifford free lunch twice a week for the rest of his life. "He was so kind!" Nicole said via a text message. "I am over the moon. God is so good. Thank you so much for sharing his story."

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