When have I been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness?
I worry about the world sometimes. I’m sure you do, too. But something happened recently that has helped me take heart.
It was a 1:45 on a weekday before school got out. I only had 15 minutes before I needed to pick up my youngest daughter at preschool and was starving. I headed to a local lunch spot, grabbed a pre-made salad from the refrigerated section, and walked with it over to the main cash register. A man was standing there making his order and the clerk, a young woman slightly disheveled, was listening, punching things into the machine. At that moment, I spotted a friend from church at a nearby table. Setting my salad on the counter, I went over to greet her. When I made my way back to the cash register, the man was still there, my salad was still there, and the woman was still there, poking uncertainly on the buttons in front of her. As we waited, I joked to the man that he could throw my salad into his order, too.
Which he then did. I protested. Multiple times I protested, but he insisted.
It was the young woman’s first day on the job, and so the man happily walked her through adding my salad to his order. Dressed for work, he probably had somewhere to be, but he wasn’t impatient or agitated in the least. He was deeply kind and generous—to her that whole time—and then to me. I mean, he bought my salad for no reason other than sheer kindness, which is actually a fantastic reason that eludes most of us.
Has this kind of thing happened to you? Have you been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Have you benefited from the joyful generosity of a stranger? Have you been treated with patient tenderness when flustered? When? What was the story? And ultimately, how did it feel? What is goodness capable of?
*By the way, thank you, Pat, for my salad and for your far-reaching inspiration.
An altered version of this post is published in the June edition of the Nashville-based magazine, NFocus.