Or Tweeted Out...
They come and go so fast, are done in such an unself-conscious manner, you barely have time to acknowledge the act itself.
Often, you stand speechless as the anonymous donor drives away or strolls out the door. Barely time to wave a thank you, let alone compose a note of gratitude.
Yesterday, I was listening to the radio and the host was talking about this very subject. Random acts of kindness. I was busy being busy and not paying particular attention to the conversation, until a caller told about being in line behind a mother of two young boys just about to check out at the grocery store. You know the spot, the one designed to make every parent anxious to please. The rows and rows, boxes and boxes filled with candy and small toys, eye level with youngsters in tow. Young people trying to be good and patient, while sorely tempted. The mother, the caller described as soft spoken, but obviously struggling to pay for the necessary items on the counter, let alone special sweet shiny treats. Her youngest child asked, "Momma please?" The older boy said nothing, just glanced up at his mother's face, knowing the answer without the question. What she did reply was this, "I only have enough money for one." The older boy looked down at his younger brother and without hesitation, smiled and said, "It's okay Mom, let him have it. I'm fine." Then he laid his hand on his brother's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
The woman standing a few feet behind, the witness to this child's kindness, felt tears come to her eyes. The family ahead left the store, but the woman behind quickly added a toy to her cart, paid in haste and raced out of the store. She caught up to them in the parking lot. She placed the toy in the older boy's hand and addressed the mother. "What a fine family you have raised." Without looking back, she drove home. Listening to her story, I felt my own tears start. I was shocked. At myself. Such a simple story. Such a tiny act. What's the matter with me?
Then, after a commercial break, the nightly news. The news wasn't good. It wasn't kind. It was, generally speaking, awful. And I thought, that's what we hear about, day in and day out. That's what we see on the nightly news, read on our front pages day after day. Random acts of violence. Only not so random, often more than not, very very intentional. To the point where it is a shock to hear kindness so clearly spoken.
Random kindness, with no expectation of return.
An anonymous donation of nice.
I put it out of my mind, until this afternoon as I drove into the drive up lane at Wendy's near home. A young man, in the driver's seat, of a beat up, battered and bruised, little red car, waved me ahead. His car. Dead. I could hear him trying to get the engine to turn over with no success. Teeth grinding gear grinding. I rolled down my window and asked if he needed help. I could see that he was embarrassed and lost as to how to prevent the long line of drivers snaking behind him from losing their patience.
Before I could say another word, two grown men, grown up meaning about my age, grandfather types, walked up to the driver's window. One man directed traffic, and the other got in front of the car and began to push it back into the parking lot. Once out of harm's way, the first gentleman got in his car and moved it to a different space. He then returned and the grandpas pushed the little red car into the abandoned spot. Striding toward the car, an employee of the nearby tire store approached the driver as the two grandfathers got in their cars and drove away.
The young man stood in the parking lot and ran his fingers through his hair. Random kindness. HERE and then THERE before he could say a word. And the cherry on the sundae? Not one driver in the line behind ever honked or complained or shouted. All in all I would say everyone was in awe. Of the moment. Two minutes. Tops. Problem solved. No thanks necessary.
I will remember, though, the last thing I saw before the men walked away. No words. Nothing said. Just a hand on the boy's shoulder and a smile.
Random acts of kindnesses. I forgot. Misplaced the thought. In too much of a hurry or the lines too blurry to need two reminders in one day of how kind the world can be. When we least expect it and when we need it the most.
Last year, when I busted my knee, I joined a fitness club and started walking in the pool. It hurt and I wanted to quit...but after walking one length of the pool, I heard clapping. The women of the pool were clapping. For me. A round of applause for trying.
I wrote about that day. I wrote about the women of the pool and their random acts of kindness.
I didn't forget them.
I forgot to remember.
The women of the pool, the woman in the check out line, the elder brother, the grandpas in the parking lot...are Olympians.
They go the distance.
One major difference.
No Win, Place or Show.
Not for the ribbons and the fanfare.
They Simply Show Up.