Not So Random Acts of Kindness

| 12/31/2013 3:19:00 PM

Tags: Meaningful Moments, The Kindness Of Strangers, Coffee Breaks, Sarah Sinning,

Sarah SinningA funny thing just happened to me. As when most people use that term to describe an event in their lives, I of course don’t mean comical or particularly amusing – but what I do mean is out of the ordinary enough to have made a profound difference in my day. Like I was saying, something funny just happened to me, and it has left me feeling contemplative to say the least, and perhaps a little reassured in the state of the world at large.

That must have been some experience, I can already sense you thinking.

No, as a matter of fact it wasn’t, but perhaps that’s what makes it so extraordinary. I was just standing in line at a local coffee shop during my lunch break, enjoying my one hour away from the office – even people who enjoy their work need time away for themselves every once in a while – when a man stepped into line behind me. He had a pleasant expression on his face, with nothing particularly striking about it except for a nascent kindness in his eyes. As we waited for the cashier to complete another transaction, we chatted nonchalantly about the day and our soon-to-be-realized caffeine fixes. I admittedly was more interested in purchasing my latte and taking the closest seat so I could cram in another article in the literary journal I’m reading, one of the last vestiges of my grad school days in English lit. (We working moms have to find some way to fit such things into our busy schedules.) So when he very politely stepped forward as I reached into my purse to pay, explaining to the cashier that my drink was on him, I was floored. Really and truly, this simple gesture had me almost speechless. As I mustered out a quick, “Are you sure? Seriously?” or something like that, he just smiled, got his own coffee to go, and retreated back into his own routine as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

And here I am, an hour later, sitting back at my desk and still thinking about it. I had intended to write another kind of post this afternoon – about the container garden I have managed to keep alive with a makeshift greenhouse enclosure on my apartment porch – but as I started to write, that no longer felt like the right thing to share today. When little things like this happen in my life, these seemingly insignificant moments of serendipity, I know I’m supposed to take notice and at the very least learn something from them.

I am reminded that truly kind people do exist in this world. I am reminded that even trivial actions can dramatically impact someone’s day. I am reminded that I can be a more positive force in the world on a daily basis. I am reminded that there’s something out there larger than myself.

Yes, all of this has come from an innocent interaction that lasted only a matter of moments.

1/2/2014 11:49:48 AM

Wow, ArkieGirl! I am awed by your generosity! It isn't everyday that you meet someone who is as kind to strangers as you are - or Bruce was, which I'm sure is why I was so moved by his gesture. Both you and he certainly inspire me to reach out more to those around me. My mother always told me that you never know what kind of day someone is having, so a single kind word may have a larger impact than you could know. This was certainly the case with me on Tuesday. His kindness was a very, very big deal to me. :) Thanks for sharing!!

1/2/2014 10:29:39 AM

Sarah, please remember that you do as much for the giver by accepting the act as he gets by the giving of it. I LOVE random acts of kindness, it is my mantra and I try to do at least one random act of kindness daily. It feeds my soul. I will always pay for the meal of any enlisted service person when I am in a restaurant, I keep little cards in my wallet with a thank you hand written on them for the waitress to give to them instead of a bill. I always sign it "A grateful American". I will pay for the toll of the car behind me on the road. I keep blankets, hats, gloves, coats in my car and pass them on to homeless people. I keep little plastic bags with food, peanut butter, crackers, canned meals, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, plastic cutlery, etc. I pass them out to the homeless I see. If you feel they would abuse money it is a great way to help. Also I keep gift coupons from fast food places, BK, MD's, Wendy's etc and give those out instead of cash. I know they will get a hot meal and be able to warm up for a while. The output is small but the rewards are HUGE. The only thing I add is that they pass the kindness on some day. What a wonderful world this would be if everyone practiced random acts of kindness daily!

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