It was about noon on Tuesday. I was in a bakery, near the cash desk, waiting for bread I'd just purchased to be sliced. An older woman had just ordered something that she held in a bag in front of her, and she was flustered because her credit card (one of those new-fangled and fickle chip thingees) was not compatible with the bakery's system. Having no cash with her, she offered to write a cheque, but the bakery declined. The poor customer looked so distraught, not knowing what to do. She commented to the cashier that she was so frustrated by her new credit card, and she was just trying to have some lunch.
All of this happened over the course of only a few seconds. I hadn't really been paying attention, but when I noticed how upset the woman was, I did a quickly replay in my head and 'caught up' with what was going on. Feeling silly about intruding in someone else's embarrassing moment, I excused myself for interrupting and then pulled out a bit of money - I told the woman and the cashier that I would be happy to pay for her purchase. The woman stared open-mouthed at me and then tried, in a flurry, to write me a cheque. When I said no, but thank you, she simply looked at me and said: "I simply don't even know what to say...I'd love to give you a hug and a kiss but I'm sick and I don't want to make you sick. Thank you so much!" She had tears in her eyes. As she was leaving a minute later, she looked at me again and said that she was going to do the same for someone else in the next few days. I was thrilled!
She had tears in her eyes over a few dollars, people! Why on earth do we not do stuff like this more often, given the impact it has? More importantly, why don't I do stuff like that more often? I have no doubt that those few dollars out of my pocket will be thought and talked about by that woman for the next few days, at least until she finds someone else upon whom to bestow some small kindness. She won't forget it...I know that because I still haven't forgotten that person who paid for my coffee and bagel in the Tim Horton's lineup a while back. It is amazing how such a tiny little thing can make the life of a complete stranger a wee bit happier. Two lives altered just a smidge by one miniscule kindness. Makes one think, doesn't it?
I know that there are so many needs in our world, in our communities, that need addressing. But surely, surely, we could make a difference, too, if we each just did one random act of kindness for a stranger this week. In the coming week, I'm going to try to find another little something to do for someone else. Will you join me? And will you leave a comment here sharing your experience??