Thursday, November 11, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I'm sitting at a coffee shop on a bright, sunny morning. Usually I teach on Thursday mornings, but it's a holiday due to Veteran's Day. I still had the child carer come for her usual 3 hours, but instead of getting up and out the door by 7:30a, we bumped back the time to 9.30a. I walked to the local coffee shop to sit and grade papers instead of driving to campus and teaching class.

I've been very low energy lately, so I'm happy to have a day off to catch up on grading and, well, to not be "on." To not have to present ideas to a class and present them with enough energy and interest to get the class interested as well.

So of course, with less than an hour of my time left, I haven't even cracked open the grade book. I've caught up on emails and blogging, chatted with another professor who's sitting a table away, and generally just enjoyed not being on campus.

While sitting here not working, I saw a grandmother and two young girls trying to enter the coffee shop. The grandmother was pushing the baby in a stroller, and a toddler was trying to open the door for all of them. However, she kept pushing against the pull door with all of her might and wasn't getting very far.

An older black gentleman with black glasses and salt and pepper dreadlocks was sitting with his computer at a small table right by the door. As soon as he realized the situation, he got up and opened the door so the family could enter. He exchanged a brief, warm smile with the grateful grandmother.

So many times, I feel like I complain about being in public and seeing all of the stupid, insensitive things people do. Being "off" for a day is helping to recharge my batteries, but I also think that witnessing random acts of kindness goes a long way towards recharging my soul, too.


Jonathan said...

It's wonderful, isn't it - seeing things like that. Those of us who do the random things - like holding doors for those behind us, etc - never think about it either.

It's a shame that it's becoming the exception rather than the norm...

Andrea said...

I love little random acts of kindness. One day, I had like $7 left on my Kohls Cash with nothing left to buy and it was going to expire in a few hours, so I handed it to the lady behind me in line. Her cart was piled high with kids clothes while 2 toddlers clung to her legs. She was just shocked that a total would share that $7 with her. Why not? I would have just tossed it on the trash at home. It literally made me smile for a week just thinking about how I made her day! It's really the little things in life that truly recharge our souls and keep us looking for another little act of kindness to share with others.

John said...
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M. Lubbers said...

Jonathan: The flip side of what you mentioned (holding doors) is one of my pet peeves. When people *expect* you to hold doors because they're just too busy. I held a door for a girl behind me on campus the other day, just so that she could grab it not to act as her bellman, and she just walked right on through without really acknowledging me because she was too busy texting. Grr!

Andrea: I love your story about the Kohl's Cash. I know if I had been that woman behind you, it would have made my day, too! Way to recharge your soul and hers:)