A Random Act Of Kindness
by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, August 27, 2008
What is a random act of kindness? Exactly what it suggests, something out of the ordinary (although you could make it ordinary), something spontaneous, and something done without an expectation of a return.
I was not feeling particularly well so my wife and I went to the drug store to get something to make me feel better. I reluctantly passed up the wine and Jack Daniels (just kidding, not sure they even sold wine and Jack Daniels). As I walked down the Halloween isle, I saw a woman with a walking cane, the kind with the four feet on the bottom. She was holding her cane under her arm as she examined a “rubber thing” which is the best way to describe whatever it was she was holding. It looked like a hedge hog but since very few people have ever seen a hedge hog, let me describe what she was holding. First, it was a light shade of green, about 10 inches long. Appeared to have two eyes at one end and it had hundreds of rubber tentacles protruding from its body. I laughed and said, “Can’t imagine going on living without one of those things.” She instantly responded, “Maybe I ought to get a case, what do you think?” I responded, “Works for me” and went about my business but with a smile on my face. As I turned and looked back I swear I saw her walk down the isle with a spring in her step. A random act of kindness? Maybe so, may not but I truly believed we both felt better after the 30 second conversation. But it got better.
As I was checking out the clerk gave me the price that ended in 4 cents. She asked, “Do you have 4 cents?” What happened next took place in no more than 2 seconds and I was not sure what happened as it occurred. I asked my wife if she had 4 cents and before I knew what happened, a hand reached around and handed me a nickel. A man and his daughter had passed the moment the clerk asked if I had 4 cents. Without breaking stride he reached into his pocket, pulled out a nickel and handed it to me. To be honest, I did not even see his face nor did I see his daughter. I said “Thank you” to the stranger.
I paid my bill and ran out the front door and saw the gentleman getting into his car, still did not see his daughter. I shouted to him (he was about 20 feet away), “That was a cool thing to do, thank you again.” It was then I heard (not saw) his daughter who said, “I have a cool dad.” I hate to admit it but I don’t think my kids would say they have a cool dad; what a pity.
I went to the drug store to get something to feel better. Do you think I felt better after my encounter with two total strangers in the space of about 5 minutes? You bet I did both as a giver of a random act of kindness (a conversation with a smile) and the receiver of a random act of kindness, a nickel. What I received can not be purchased off the shelf in a drug store or ordered on the Internet. We both went home feeling better about everything.
Can you imagine a world where everyone (that would include you) made it a personal goal to perform just one random act of kindness every day? Here are some examples:
• Just smile at a stranger and say hello.
• Pick something up that was dropped at a store and put it back
• Pay for someone’s meal without telling them
• Let someone into traffic with a wave and a smile
• Tell someone how much you appreciate them or what they did
• Write someone a note if for no other reason than “I was thinking of you”
• Leave a note or gift on someone’s desk with no reference to you
• Send someone a text message to their cell phone, “I was thinking of you”
• Send hand written thank you notes to everyone who helped you close a sale
• Help a neighbor without being asked
• Picking up the trash left on the floor around a trash can
• Picking up paper off the floor in a rest room (yuk!)
• Be a mentor to a new person without being asked; share your expertise
Sometimes your random act of kindness might even be going home when you feel upset so as not to share your misery with everyone else. But if you do, don’t share your misery with your family either. Here is a question to ask, “Do I brighten a room by entering or by leaving?” Would it not make sense to make it a goal to brighten a room by entering? If that is so, why do so few people work at brightening a room or someone’s life?
Make it your goal that you perform at least one random act of kindness every day without expecting something in return.