Have you ever walked into your favorite coffee shop, ordered a large double-double? They bring it to you, You go to pay for it and they tell you the person who was in front of you in line paid for it. No? Me neither - but would you do it for someone else?
Yesterday while taking the transit across town I notice some cards laying lying on some of the benches. I picked one up and saw that they were “Random Acts of Kindness Week” advertisements. Our Downtown Business Association has promoted it for several years now. I’ve never been directly on the receiving end of an act of kindness yet; however many people have bought me a coffee or held a door open for me on other days during the year. I’ve even developed the habit of looking behind me while going through a door to see if someone is coming in behind me.
The first time I heard of a Random Acts day was more than two decades ago. A couple of years ago I spoke with a member of the Downtown Business Association about their annual event and he had never heard of the story I’m about to ercount and I find that sad. I wish I had kept the news article now, it really made me stop and think. I remember going to work the next day and telling people about it.
The story involved a young man who was struggling to beat drug addiction and homelessness. I don’t remember all the things he had dealt with, but I’m glad I didn’t forget his story. Maybe one day I will do some research; there has to be something, somewhere on file but it happened over 20 years ago, I honestly wouldn’t know where to start.
The person who told the young man’s story was a minister at one of the downtown churches. If I remember correctly, the church was always open for the homeless and street kids that lived downtown. The minister had watched the young man struggle daily to stay sober and go through counseling to figure his life out. Through his encouragement the young man had worked hard and in time he became a mentor to some of the other kids. Then one day the minister learned that the young man had taken his own life.
The minister wanted to do something to honor him, so he asked in the newspaper that people perform a random act of kindness for someone they knew or some total stranger. It was something that the young man would have done, something he had done many times.
I would like to believe that the reason we have this week in my city was because of this young man’s story but it isn’t. I’m sorry I don’t remember the man’s name but I won’t forget his story and hopefully by telling it, others will see this and be inspired, just as I was.
Random acts of kindness don’t have to cost you anything but some choose to do what I mentioned, by buying someone coffee. But holding the door for someone or helping someone rake leaves, these are some of so many things you can do. Think about it. Maybe you will be the one on the receiving end and you can pay it forward. Kindness has never hurt anyone.
This whole techno world has made many of us humanly disconnected; this is a way to tap the shoulder of someone who is consumed with their smartphone and just say “hello”, share a smile or give them a compliment.
Simple acts of kindness - give it a try.