The Ponder Effect | When have I been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness?
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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.

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3 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    June 4, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    WhT a great idea?We all need to be aware of the “ blessings “ that are in our path( of life) and be reminded so we practice it daily as a matter of course

  • Anonymous

    June 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

    I was in the check out line at Publix with my precious two year granddaughter sitting in the cart. The checker, an older lady behind me, and I were all chatting away, as you do from time to time in the grocery. They were asking my granddaughter her likes and dislikes, and she was being pretty cute in my very biased opinion. As I was getting ready to leave the older lady reached over and picked a stuffed dog from a display nearby. She asked the checker to scan it and then she presented it to my granddaughter who responded with delight and a “thank you.” (Thank you, Mom!) It was such a lovely unexpected gift of much more than a stuffed animal.

  • Anonymous

    June 5, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Fresh out of college, age 21, I had an interview for a job in New York. I had never been to the city. I had never ridden on a subway. I was standing in the middle of Grand Central Station in a new suit and pair of gray pumps (because that’s what I thought people wore to interviews), feeling utterly lost and confused. I didn’t know the difference between the trains running out of the city and the subway lines, much less which one to get on. A man came up to me and said, “The thought of my daughter looking like you do right now terrifies me. You can’t look like this here. If you don’t know where you’re going, just fake it. Now how can I help you? Where do you need to go?” He explained the subway systems and mapped my route for me. He kept me from being late to the interview–or from something much worse happening–and he taught me a valuable lesson about my new home and life in general. Fake it until you make it.