Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Bakery Treat.

A while back, in April, I posted about how good it felt to do a random act of kindness for a stranger (see Wanna Try an Experiment?).  A few of my dear readers commented and emailed that they were also fascinated by the whole concept of doing something unexpectedly nice for another person.  One person noted that her neighbour had committed to completing 100 random acts of kindness in a year...I wonder if that goal was met.  I was caught by the idea, but, frankly, mostly forgot about it...until Tuesday.

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??


  1. I am planning a post on this exact thing coming up, except that in my post, I was the recipient of the act of kindness. Let me tell you, I know why that lady at the bakery was tearing up! It is remarkable for someone to look outside of themselves and show kindness to a stranger in this day and age. It changes your outlook completely and turns the day around.

    Imagine how the day would have gone had this elderly lady who was under the weather and frustrated already had had to leave the store without the bread for her lunch. She would have felt defeated, embarrassed, disappointed, not to mention, hungry. In one seemingly small gift, you turned that to surprise, joy, hope, loved, validated, noticed, and fed.

    Let's hope the kindness spreads!

  2. Yep - I'll join you! Details to follow...

  3. Wow ! I really like that. This woman will remember you forever and will pass to another person...

  4. Good for you Ruth. You're right, this needs to happen more often or better yet if only the cashier could say,
    "Don't worry about it, just bring me the money tomorrow" but that would be a rare occasion in this day and age.

    Last year I gave a woman about 30 cents at the grocery store. The cashier wouldn't or couldn't let her go wit her groceries without the 30 extra cents she still owed so the poor woman sat down on a chair and searched though her purse. I could feel her embarrassment so I quickly gave her the money. We've all been there so we might as well help each other out.

  5. I love this! I will join you too!

  6. Oh good - a few more to join my quest to do some little, random kindness in the next week!!! Yay team. Can't wait to hear the stories.



  7. oh it does, it does, make me think. i realized the other day again how very rude people are...i held the door for two older couples and by their over-effusive thanks and how "wonderful" I was, I realized this just doesn't get done anymore...sad. So good to just DO kind things-really so easy, but why don't we think of it more? kudos to you! I think just to raise our kids to be kind and courteous will, I hope, someday have an impact.