so here’s a question: when did we stop performing random acts of kindness? did the concept die with anne herbert herself (don’t worry, i had to google her, too) or have the acts simply become so random that they all but disappeared in present day?
or maybe they do indeed continue to happen, in the trader joe’s produce section, in the airport security line, or even on the side of interstate highways, and i’m simply not present to observe them (i have yet to master that whole “being multiple places at the same time” thing). but i can’t help but feel we’ve all simply ceased doling out selfless deeds to our fellow neighbor. because recently, i performed one such sporadic gesture for a stranger and you would have thought i had offered her a brand new car (or something else only oprah could issue at a moment’s notice), she was so taken aback, it was almost awkward.
i sat in starbucks sunday morning (as i do most sunday mornings), huddled up to a corner table, writing in my black and white marbled composition book, alternating sips between my venti ice water and my grande americano, occasionally looking up to steal glances of my fellow caffeinated comrades and offering a smile or two as their gaze met mine. i watched quietly the interaction between a mother and daughter as they communicated in hand gestures and muffled sounds through the storefront window -the mother inside the store, the daughter peering in from the exterior. a look of slight panic splashed across the young girl’s face as sat in front of the building, dutifully looking after the family canine, her beautiful copper hair blew in the wind.
“come on mom, how much longer?” her body language seemed to say. her mother attempted to assure her that she’d be back soon with a wave, but her face appeared stressed, strained. it was taking an abnormally amount of time (in starbuck’s standards) for their drinks to be prepared, after all.
and without a second thought i interrupted the silence with an offer. “i can listen for your drinks and tap on the window when they’re up so you can go outside with her right now?”
she stared back at me in disbelief. “really?!” she inquired, her eyes as big as saucers. “of course, i’m sitting right here (in front of the pick-up counter), just tell me what you ordered and i’ll keep my ears peeled.” i replied.
and just as she began to rattle off the details of her order, the drinks manifested themselves on the bar. “oh, nevermind then, here they are!” she interrupted herself.
and i smiled.
and i watched her carefully balance all four drinks as she made her way outside to join her awaiting daughter. but before she reached the door, she made eyes with me one more time, offering a sincere “thank you so much again” and a toothy grin. and i waved my hand as if to signify that it had been of no bother to me and matched her smile with one of my own.
and i went along my business, scribbling down words and phrases until it was time for me to leave. but before i parted ways with my beloved coffee carrier, i was united with my random act of kindness recipient once more. she was quick to again express her sincerest gratitude for my original offer and in the same way, i reiterated how it had been my pleasure (i hadn’t even had the opportunity to see the offer through to completion!) to offer said assistance. and then we parted ways once and for all, off to carry out the makings of our respective sundays.
and i don’t share this story for selfish gain. no, this is not meant to be a “look at me” note about how i was so gracious as to offer a kind stranger my assistance in retrieving her starbuck’s libation. rather i hope this merely serves as a reminder that even the smallest of gestures can be appreciated in a big big way. that every opportunity to share the love of Christ is an opportunity worth taking.
why can’t random acts of kindness simply be “acts of kindness;” regularly doled out to strangers and loved ones alike. because the way i see it, it may be a big scary world out there, but we’re all kind of stuck in it together, so we might as well be sweet to each other while we’re here, right?