The number of times I an on the receiving end of kindnesses is astronomical. It says something good about the human race when you think about it, and heaven knows we sometimes need to find something good about our fellow man and ourselves.
An example is tonight. I went to Home Depot to get some boards cut for an art project I’m working on. The gentleman who was cutting it for me explained everything might not come out exactly as I had written down – they weren’t precise. I assured him that was OK – I’m just going to paint on these and they’ll be individual pieces so they don’t need to be exact. When I went to pay he didn’t charge me for the cutting – only the piece. It was just a little kindness. I said something to him and he just smiled and said, “you’re OK, don’t worry about it.” It was just a little kindness in exchange for my little kindness.
I was reminded of an experience years ago at the State Farm Claims office after my car was hit in a little fender bender. I was waiting my turn and watching the person before me being obnoxious to the claims person, for no reason other than they just could. The claims officer told them they would mail the check and the person left in a huff. It was my turn and I went out where the car was to explain what happened. The claims officer was a pleasant as could be, we chatted about nothing in particular, and he said, “OK, take your paperwork to the desk and they’ll write you a check.” I was a bit puzzled, but then realized it was just a little kindness for my kindness. Admittedly, the person before me probably made me seem like quite the charmer.
A couple of months ago, Greg and I drove outside of town a few miles after a late night snack, to see if we could find a darker area from which to see meteor showers. We headed back into town in just a few minutes, realizing there was nowhere near town without light pollution anymore. We were talking and I wasn’t paying much attention, and after stopping at an intersection, turned back toward town. I had barely turned when I saw flashing lights behind me. A sheriff’s officer pulled me over for not using my blinker. Internally I was thinking – “good grief, it’s almost midnight and there’s not a soul anywhere around.” Externally I just politely got out my insurance and license and smiled nicely. He came back in a few minutes and said he wasn’t going to give me a ticket and that it would have been $135 if he had. I thanked him profusely. He said, “no problem. I appreciate you being so polite.” The lesson? Politeness pays. To the tune of $135 in this case.
Kindness is one of those chicken and egg things – which kindness comes first? Does the world treat me kindly because I expect the world to treat me kindly? That’s what “The Secret” and all the similar books that came before it would say. I don’t know. I just know that kindness begets kindness.
In the interest of being completely truthful, I am not always kind – not by a long shot. I get frustrated. I get overwhelmed. I get bitchy. I like to think I have learned to control it much better than I used to. My impulsiveness that can take many forms – from saying things you should have thought about first to doing things others might consider idiotic. I believe it was just in the last few days I was talking about how that impulsiveness can be a problem at times. Fortunately, I’ve learned to control it a bit more than I used to.
A few years ago, the RAK movement was started – Random Act of Kindness. It’s the idea that we should make a point of doing random acts of kindness every day – not expecting anything in return – but just because it makes the world better for all of us. I can’t say that I make a point to do that every day, but I have learned that a little kindness can go a long way. And kindness is often repaid with kindness.
It’s easy to take these kindnesses for granted because they happen so regularly. But, for today, I’m making an effort to recognize them and realize there may indeed be hope for us – the human race.