A Random Act of Kindness
Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. (Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip)
While riding on the WCEx (a commuter train which delivers people from suburbs of Vancouver to the downtown area) this morning, I witnessed a random act of kindness. A middle-aged woman had dropped her phone on the platform while she was waiting for the train and the the screen was completely smashed; she literally cut her finger on it when she tried to unlock it. After she got onto the train and found a seat beside one of her work colleagues, she explained the story to her co-worker. This woman was pretty upset about her phone and was speaking a little louder than what is usual on an early(ish)-morning train.
A young man across the aisle evidently was listening. When the woman had finished explaining to her co-worker what had happened, he leaned toward her and gave her the name of a really good iPhone repair place. The business, he explained, was in the train station where we were heading and would be able to have her phone fixed in couple hours. He also explained that all of the IT guys with whom he worked absolutely raved about how the work at this repair shop was such high-quality and somewhat inexpensive. But the young man was not done with just suggesting the place to go. He had also written down the number, hours, and cost of fixing the woman’s phone and then passed the piece of paper with the information to the woman.
The woman, who I assume was incredibly surprised by the man’s thoughtfulness, didn’t really reply. She took the paper and put it in her purse. The young man still had a smile on his face when he hopped off the train.
Some people are just nice. When they see a problem which they are able to fix, they jump into action. That is what the young man did today. It didn’t appear to matter to him that the woman showed little gratitude for his kindness; he was just please to have been able to help. I think that this is pretty beautiful.
Random acts of kindness are always great to witness and they’re even better to take part in. There is something really cool about being able to help someone or brighten his or her day. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment that is different from what you get when you finish an essay or finally get around to cleaning out the back of the fridge. It is (hopefully) completely outside of yourself.
I was lucky enough to participate in a few different groups which had a few days/weeks every year when the goal was to perform random acts of kindness. In one group, we walked around our high school on Valentine’s day and gave flowers to people who were eating lunch alone. With another group, we brought a keyboard, a guitar, and a few drums to a seniors’ home and instead of just singing to them, we learned a number of classics and standards and encouraged them to sing with us.
My own experiences were more organized than the act I was privileged enough to see this morning, but there are so many ways in which we can be kind to one another. My sister-in-law works as a care aid in a facility which looks after seniors who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s and the like. She does a lot of things that she doesn’t have to, just to brighten the days of her patients. When she married my brother this past August, she took a few extra minutes before going to the ceremony to stop at her work and celebrate the wedding with the people she looks after–they were ecstatic to see her dressed in her wedding gown. She also does things day-to-day, like helping some of the women put on a little lipstick or perfume in the morning. I doubt that these things are in her job description, but she does them anyways. They are no longer random (because she has been doing them for a few years), but they are certainly kind.
Not every act has to be huge and public. Sharing a smile with a sad-looking stranger on the street is enough. Holding the door is enough. Whatever you can do is enough.
If you’re interested in learning more about random acts of kindness, there is actually a foundation. You can check it out here.
If you have any stories about your own experiences with random acts of kindness, I encourage you to share them in the comments. Remember: part of what inspires random acts is seeing others perform them first. This is a fad that I hope you will follow!