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An Opportunity to Be Kind or Fearful

A few weeks ago I was traveling and had returned to Chicago O’Hare airport at 1:00 in the morning, after my flight had been delayed over 3 hours. I was chafing at the lateness of the hour, knowing I had about a 1 hour drive home. I was thinking how nice my warm bed would be and working to keep the kindness showing in my demeanor. And I wasn’t being very successful…I was feeling tired and grumpy and irritated, OK, I’ll admit it. I was pissed off!

I passed by the night guard, who shared a wonderful smile, great warmth, and reminded me to have a nice, safe drive home. As I was trudging along with all the junk I seem to “need” when I travel, I was, at one and the same time, thinking about getting home AND how I could share the guard’s act of kindness with someone else. Since no one else was about, I figured I was off the hook (how is that for being a grump, eh)!

Besides that I had every reason to be scared, right? That is what my mind was telling me. It was dark, it was late, I was at Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was by myself, I was female…And the monkey mind went on and on with all the reasons for me to be scared. And they were all perfectly justifiable reasons to be scared, thank you very much! I heard the voice in my head say “Anything could happen, just keep to yourself, walk like you know what you’re doing…remember all those articles you’ve read? Those articles that tell you why to protect yourself and take care?”

I trudged on to the elevator, found the tram out to the nether reaches of O’Hare’s parking lot, pulled my luggage down the broken elevator, paid for the ticket, and trudged through the slushy snow to find a car covered with snow. Crud! Now it was going to take me even longer to get home. Crud, crud, crud! I cleaned off the car, found the elusive ticket (I just had it, where did it go?), and wound my way through the huge parking lot to the exit. When I got to the exit, there was some sort of hold up…the person at the gate was taking forever. Crud again! As I sat reminding myself of patience and kindness, the person moved their car and I thought “great, now we can get going”. But nooooo, she moved her car, dug around and came up with a checkbook (where was her debit card anyway!).

At that moment, I looked in the mirror and saw a man running towards my car…a momentary flash of “oh no, this doesn’t look good” went through my thoughts. The fears I had been harboring and nursing like some sort of open wound since I knew I would arrive late popped into my head.

And then I got one of those gentle nudges…”this man needs your help, and he won’t harm you, you’re safe. You’re OK.” The man, horribly out of breath, got to my window and said “Mam, is there any chance you could help me start my car? The battery is dead. I have cables if I could just attach them to your car.”

Talk about getting what you ask for! I wanted a way to pay it forward and I got it, almost immediately! He jumped in the car and off we went to start his car on this oh-so-frigid night. When we got to his car, his cables wouldn’t reach because of the position of the other cars in the lot. Fortunately (thanks to a kindness of a former boyfriend), I had cables and we were able to hook the two together and get his car started so he pick up his wife, who was waiting inside the train area, and could be on his way to his nice warm bed too.

As we each went our own way, he said “I knew you were kind when you smiled at me while we were on the tram”. And I didn’t even realize I *had* smiled at him.

The smile and kind words from the guard started a chain of events that reminded me why kindness is so important in this world. And he doesn’t even know what he did and how much he changed my life. I know in my heart that I wouldn’t have done helped this man without that smile! I was too busy being tired and ready to be home to pay attention. That simple smile softened my heart and my attitude.

So what do you think? Have you had one of these opportunities too? Yes? Then share it with the world and take one step toward a peaceful loving place in which to live.

~Jerilynne, Wauconda, IL USA

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Kind Stranger Returns Note

Last May my husband and I went to Hilton Head Island for a week’s vacation. While there, we went grocery shopping at one of the local supermarkets, something we usually do when we’re staying at a timeshare resort. About a week after our return home an envelope showed up in the mail with a Hilton Head return address and a name we did not recognize. Inside the envelope was a smaller envelope containing a note my mother-in-law had sent to us from Iowa. I had opened the note and read it but my husband had not had a chance to do so before our departure. He had taken it with him to read on vacation. It had obviously fallen out of the car in the parking lot at the supermarket. A complete stranger had found it, picked it up, read the address and returned it. Such a random act of kindness brought tears to our eyes.

~Evelin, Alexandria, VA USA

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Youth Treats Elder with Kindness

When my son was about 13 or 14, we were standing at the end of the freezer aisle discussing what treats we wanted to buy that week–would it be ice cream? Pizza? Eggrolls? We both paused when we saw an older woman walk to the other end of the freezer aisle. We glanced at each other and I knew we were thinking the same thing “what a tiny woman and how frail she looks”.

We continued our chat and a few minutes later this tiny woman, who couldn’t have been more than about 4’8” tall, walked straight up to my strapping 6’ tall son, dressed in his most impressive semi-Goth black outfit. Without hesitation, she smiled and said “young man, could you…” and before she got the rest of the sentence out of her mouth, my son had started walking with her down the aisle to help her reach the item she needed from a top shelf.

Although he normally walked like his hair was on fire, taking huge steps to match his height, he walked very slowly, matching his pace to hers, bending down to talk to her as they walked. He helped her with her item and as they walked toward me I heard him ask “would you like help with the rest of your shopping? I’d be glad to do so.”. She declined graciously and then said to me, as the hair was prickling my arms “you have a wonderfully kind young man here” and continued on her way. I gave my son a big hug, touched by his gentle heart, only to hear him say “Mom, I’m surprised she wasn’t afraid of me, given how big and I and how I am dressed! I would think she would be scared of me. WOW, that was kewl!”

And who says the teenagers have all gone to hell in a handbasket!

~Jerilynne, Indianapolis, IN USA