Friday, November 4, 2011

Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes, it is good to get off topic.  Today is one of those days.  Sometimes, I am struck by the kindness of strangers.
This week, while running errands with my children, my son inadvertently lost his IPod which he had had for less than two weeks.  Needless to say, I was upset and frustrated.  I had the kids look carefully through the van while I called the stores to see if it had been returned.  I wasn’t too hopeful because many people would simply pocket the thing if they found it.
I was thrilled when I called Target, and they said someone had returned it to their lost and found.  Apparently, my son had dropped it by the van in the parking lot.  It’s amazing that it wasn’t even scratched let alone smashed by another vehicle.  Someone was a really good person and simply did the right thing:  returned it.
Throughout the years, I’ve run into many people who were just plain kind to strangers. 
Years ago, when I was in college, two of my high school friends were visiting me in Baltimore.  We had spent much of the morning roaming through Inner Harbor and then we were planning to go to the Aquarium.  It cost more than any of us expected, and we stared at the sign with the fees, and among us, we didn’t have enough.   This older gentleman walked up to us.  We weren’t sure about him since it was the city, but he said he would pay for one of us to get in.  What?  Admission for free?  There had to be a catch.  We were young women and not totally naive.  No catch he said.  His wife had passed away some months ago, and he was lonely and still had his membership.  He said he came most days to the Aquarium just to pass the time, and he made a point to look around and choose someone deserving of a free admission.  Sometimes he would pick a young couple, but that day he picked us.  He said he could tell that we were in college and probably didn’t have enough money.  So he led us through the membership door, paid for one of our admission, tipped his hat and wished us well.
Then some years later, I was at the Bay Bridge heading to visit my parents and got my turn at the toll only to find that the person ahead of me had paid for me.  It was Christmas time.  After that, I’ve done that a few times myself.  It’s a nice gesture and doesn’t cost all that much.  Apparently it is done at lot at the Bay Bridge.
While it doesn’t make up for all the meanness out there, those acts of kindness that pop up here and there give me some faith in humanity.  People have to remember that it’s the little things that matter.  Holding a door for someone coming up behind you.  Letting people off the elevator first before getting on.  Turning something into the lost and found instead of pocketing it.  It doesn’t take much, but it makes a world of difference.

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