I was asked if I could write about acts of kindness.
Sure. Easy! After all my life was filled to overflowing with so many stories of the kindnesses that had been displayed to me throughout the years from child to senior citizen. Having experienced so many acts of kindness was a truly humbling thought. It took my breath away to realize this was an immeasurable number of kindness acts that had been intended for ME. Yes, I was the focus of those acts and it struck me with a reverent awe.
In fact, as I sat down with my writing journal, examples of kindness stories popped into my mind one after another until there was no way for me to sort them out properly to write about. It was frankly almost dizzying. I let the memories come and go through my mind as I sat in wonderment. But, I am a person who likes to get a job done, and I needed a logical way to approach and describe all of those many acts.
Well, remember the old rolodex holders? The ones that were BIG and round and you could use a side knob to flip from card to card. I decided to make a sort of rolodex in my head and just let the memories continue to stream into my consciousness. Each memory would simply be placed on one of the rolodex cards in my mind. I decided that I would pick just one card to write about. Otherwise, I had no way to express the life long examples of all these beautiful gifts that had come my way. Yes, one act of kindness, is a big story all on it’s own.
I stopped and pondered several of these memory cards and then settled on one to share. It was not the biggest kindness, or even one I had thought of in over a decade. But, it was a kindness that had surprised me. And with that introduction, let me begin the story of an act of kindness.
The year was 2010 and I had just finished a long work day. Even when you love your job, there is a form of intense life energy that work requires of you. So, there I was getting ready to face the rush hour traffic along Michigan Avenue. My car would make it’s way along with large trucks, gravel trains and a myriad of other drivers. The wait time at each light would be long. And, this being real life, there were several stops that I still had to make on my way home from work. I had to go to the Farm Supply store to buy the 50 lb. bags of dog food that my German short hairs liked and would be waiting for. I had to stop at the grocery for food that I liked.
It was almost 6:00pm. I would get home by 7:00pm and then I would still need to do food preparation and cook dinner. As I thought about the routine of my working person life, I saw the bright neon sign approaching along my path. McDonald’s. O.K., I am not proud that this was my option for that evening. But I was hungry, I was tired and I still had a lot to do once I arrived home. It was a choice and it was the choice that I made.
Like so many others, I joined a long line weaving to the microphone where I would place my order. I believe there were about 6 or 7 cars in front of me. Each car seemed to be held up at the food window for several minutes. I started doing math and I don’t even like doing math. 7 cars x 3 minutes per car = my being at the food window in 21 minutes.
I scolded myself. Now I had placed my order, I was in this ridiculous line and I still had so much to do. What a waste of money and time. I was getting ticked off at myself for this choice of “fast food”. If only I was a more organized perfect person, I would have found some better option.
I don’t know what look I had on my face. I don’t think my thoughts can show through to other strangers. Surely, I was the only person knowing how upset I was getting. And, not so upset by the wait, but by my lack of forethought.
Finally, the line of cars inched forward and after a long time my “fast food” was being handed to me out the window. “Thank you,” I said to the employee at the window. “Oh wait, I didn’t pay yet.” I said while grabbing my debit card to hand over to her.
“It is paid for.” she said.
“No” I corrected her. “I did not pay yet.”
“The car in front of you paid for your order.” she explained.
Wait, that old Toyota in front of me had paid for my order? What? Why?
“Why?” I asked the employee.
“They said to tell you that you just received a random act of kindness.”
It was so strange to me. I knew it was a Toyota in front of me. It wasn’t even a new model. Who would do this for a stranger? I actually had money to pay for my order, had I looked so troubled in my car? Had they planned this? Why me?
That McDonald’s dinner became a precious meal to me. A stranger did something just because it was kind. They actually truly extended themselves to be kind to me.
I drove off from McDonald’s to do my errands and then I drove home and hauled in the dog food. Mr. Misto and Lady Latte provided their happy dog excitement about seeing me.
“Pinch me” I thought. My free dinner was just the coolest thing. A random act of kindness had come my way and I became a better person for that.