Not So Random Acts of Kindness

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A 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.

Thank you, Bruce. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Photo by Fotolia/Maksim Shebeko