Kindness is easily taken for granted and many times overlooked by the one providing random kindness as a significant event. What I view as normal everyday, common courtesy’s are viewed by others a extraordinary acts of kindness. For example, a pet peeve of mine is finding shopping carts left all over retail parking lots. Sometimes just ONE parking space away from a cart storage area. So I normally will gather up carts and put them in the cart storage on my way into the store, or I will take a cart from outside cart storage, even if I don’t need one, and take it into the store. A friend asked me one time why I did this. My reply was, “that is one less cart for someone else to deal with and I am going that way.”
Picking up litter wherever you see it and disposing of it properly is another good random act of kindness habit to get into. My husband would stop the car (we lived in a very small town with one stop light) and pick up cigarette packs, pop cans, etc. littering the streets and put it in the car to be disposed of at home. I frequently found litter in his pockets he would pick up in his walking travels to and from the car on errands. Helping someone stranded alongside the road. We still get Christmas cards from a family we helped over 35 years ago stranded alongside the road during a snow storm. We just did those kinds of things without thinking. Doing what we can for others where we can.
When I think of random acts of kindness, it involves some level of “hardship” on my part, some “cost”. Paying for someone’s meal, parking, toll booth costs, water bill, car registration, groceries, medical bills, hair cuts, hotel bills, tips larger than the price of the meal, etc. The list can be endless. Watching someone’s kids so they can go to an appointment. Cleaning their house and doing their laundry while they were ill, mowing lawn, shoveling/snoblowing snow. My husband after a snowstorm would load up the snowblower and travel around town finding people outside shoveling that shouldn’t be and send them inside and would snoblow and shovel their driveways and sidewalks. We have done all those things and more, again with little thought of the significant impact this makes on others beyond we do these things because we can.
We have been the recipient of acts of kindness. When my husband was fighting the fight of his life for four years, we had many come forward and offer their assistance and more importantly, not offer just DO. This was a very humbling experience for us. We were used to being the ones doing not receiving. They knew to offer no matter what it was we would refuse graciously, but if they DID we couldn’t undo. We were blessed beyond measure.
The surprise acts of kindness are the most fun to do and to receive, especially in the mail. Everyone of all ages likes to receive cards in the mail. You know it is going to contain something good just because of the shape. So I send out a few cards with the card providing the message and sent out a few that I handwrote a message of admiration, encouragement, support. Some were signed, but most unsigned leaving them guessing. I had to work hard disguising my handwriting.
Leaving notes with messages like “you are worth a mint to many” and an attached mint on their car window to cars in shopping parking lots is a lot of fun especially for a group to canvas the parking lot. How inexpensive when you can buy $1.00 bag of starlite mints from the dollar store.
We were blessed with a volunteer run movie theater in the town I used to live in. I was one of the many regular volunteers and usually worked the Wednesday afternoon matinee, regular job was making the popcorn, when all the retired seniors would attend and their movie ticket price was $1.00. I would show up for my scheduled volunteer Wednesday and tell the cashier to tell them their admission was already paid by an admirer and I would pay all their admissions after the movie started. Or I might pay for their matinee $2.00 special popcorn and small soda for everyone who attended that movie. Sadly, moving to a large city those prices are prohibitive of doing this for everyone watching the movie, so I will prepay for a random senior and I never know who it is. I will tell the cashier to pick a number between 1 and 20 and that number is the senior I am paying for. If it doesn’t appear there will be 20 seniors attending that showing and they picked number 20, they are to pick someone to give it to.
I am smiling remembering all these activities and how it not only made others feel but how we felt helping others. The cheapest and easiest act of kindness you can give to another is your smile. My legacy, helping others. The best is yet to be. I always keep my promises.