Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 12, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 12, 2004 – Kindness is not in grand gestures, although at times it seems that way. We hear about communities donating thousands of dollars to help a destitute family after a fire, or one country sending plane loads of supplies and medical personnel to another after a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake.
This attests to the human realization that a sharing of resources in times of global need is not only the right thing to do, but also a great kindness. We would expect the same outpouring of generosity if the citizens of our city or country were in peril. Many individuals are not in a position to offer money or sanctuary on a large scale, but we sometimes forget that small gestures of kindness from one person to another can remembered and appreciated for a very long time.
My sister-in-law Dee (Dorothy) called me this evening about six-thirty to tell me that she was back home after a long work day. I was lying on my bed at the time nursing a really bad headache. The kind that starts just above the eyebrows and ends in a vice-like hold at the base of the neck. Dee was ready to help me move a table down to a client’s house in my brother’s station wagon.
My enthusiasm for the task at hand was minimal to say the least, but I had made a commitment and needed to fulfill my end of the bargain. I drove over to Dee’s and we loaded the table and tablecloth, a carpet and a picture into Eric’s car and headed off.
During our drive, Dee told me about her day. It had started very early at a trade show on Lifestyle And Health, where she spent the day on her feet talking about Mrs. Dash, a salt substitute. She got home and made dinner. She said she felt like having a hot bath and diving into bed. Instead, on a Friday night she called and helped me move furniture. When we finished, she asked me if I’d had dinner.
I told her that I was going to go home and have a cup of tea and a cookie. “Oh no, you’re not”, she said, “You’re going to come in and I’m going to make you a salad and a grilled cheese sandwich and a tea with brandy. Then you can go home, have a bath, go to bed early and get rid of that headache”.
Dee has another really early morning tomorrow and an extremely busy day. She probably won’t get home until after seven o’clock in the evening. Her unexpected gesture of taking care of me was kind and generous. I was extremely touched. If I’d had the sort of day she’d just finished, the last thing I’d have thought to offer a friend, at nine o’clock at night would have been a yummy grilled cheese sandwich.
It was a small thing but it had a big impact. It’s so easy to be kind or to say a kind word. I remember seeing a bumper sticker once that said, “Practice random acts of kindness”. If more of us did this every day, the effects would be substantial. As I was driving home, I thought about the unexpected, kind things other people have done for me lately. Not because they were under any obligation to do so, but simply because they wanted to.
A man at the grocery store moved his things to one side and let me pass by to check out my loaf of bread and bottle of orange juice.
A driver on a busy street re-parked his car farther up the road so I could have his spot to unload some things in front of a client’s house.
A client brought me a coffee and muffin to an early morning meeting.
A friend called me the other day to thank me again for dropping a book off at her house. She had already thanked me, but was very appreciative because it had been “one of those days”, and she just wanted me to know that.
Another friend of mine left me some wild flowers tied up with a cheerful red bow on my porch – his note said – “just because”.
A client sent me an e-mail last week and signed it “thank you for everything – a big hug for you today”.
These were all such small, simple things, but they made a difference in how I felt. I usually try to express my thanks for kindness shown to me, but thinking about this has motivated me to remember to offer a kind word or gesture more often.