Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Kindness We Come Across

Ever walk along the street and notice someone doing an act of kindness right out of the blue? It doesn’t have to be a big act of heroism, like saving someone’s life from a burning building. It’s those little everyday gestures, a kind smile, a helping hand, that often go unnoticed by the rest of society.

You will never find this person on The Today Show or Oprah. But their charitableness should never go unspoken of or brushed aside. I came across one a few weeks ago.

It involves parking meters.


I was near the hospital, standing in one of the alcoves on another rainy day, waiting for the bank across the street to open that early morning to take out money. Along the street were two guys in rain ponchos wheeling little metal boxes around.

I saw the guy go up to the meter, unlock the front, take out the enclosed canister, and stick it in the round hole where some internal mechanism inside the wheeled metal box released the change inside. Then the guy twisted the canister off and replaced it back into the meter without ever seeing or having access to the chunk change.

An SUV pulled up to the hospital. The woman was well-dressed, with many bags like those ones a person would stow presents inside. It was obvious she was there to visit a patient in the hospital, probably before she headed to work. It was also obvious she was in such a rush that she had forgotten her umbrella at home.

The guy emptying the meters reached her parking space. He emptied the canister, placed it back into the meter, and reached into his pocket to pull out change. He fed his own money into the machine for the woman, letting her know she didn't have to worry about it. Then he crossed the street toward the next meter without waiting for a "Thank You" from the woman.

I wonder how often he does that for people, when he finds a meter ticking to its last seconds and feeds his own money into it? I wonder how many grateful people there are who rush out, especially at the hospital, worried they probably got a ticket or car towed only to find some good, unnamed Samaritan had fed change into their meter?

Does anyone else have a person in mind who deserves such recognition? A person whose charity goes unnoticed?

Editor's note: In case you are wondering about the missing posts from the past few days, again, most of my regular readers know that, for the past two years of this blog, I rarely post about my personal life in such a manner. After looking over what was written, I decided to take them down. Everything I wrote was the truth. I just personally don't feel right to post ongoing negativity on this blog. It's not my style!

24 comments:

  1. As I'm sometimes fond of saying, angels are all around us.

    I'm ashamed to say I can't think of any specific person I remember for doing such deeds on a continual basis - I know they've been around, it's just my memory that's faulty - but I've certainly seen many instances of kindness delivered without asking for the favor. Despite what some would say, people are generally nice.

    (I'm not saying everyone is nice. But, taken as a whole, people are.)

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  2. It's the little encounters like this that make life worth living!

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  3. The true angels do their work quietly, so we usually don't notice them. You just happened to witness one of those otherwise invisible acts. But, it did make your day. Didn't it?

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  4. Boy, that is nice. If only more people acted like that. Great story.

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  5. Okay, I didn't understand the bit about the canisters. Was this guy breaking into the meters? That would put a damper on the "benevolence." I'm probably just misunderstanding the situation, which is par for the course around here.

    Anyway, I do have a story like that. A while back I was getting my lunch at Subway. I got to the register to pay for my sandwich and the cashier said, "Oh, the lady that just left covered yours. It's already paid for." Since I had my money all ready, I said, "Okay then, I'll pay for the next guy's." When he got to the register, he did the same thing. SIX consecutive people then paid for the next person's meal. The streak stopped when a lady realized that the person behind her was ordering about eight sandwiches. She smiled and said, "I'm nice, but I'm not that nice." Everyone laughed, and it made a lot of people's day.

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  6. I love stories of compassion...benevolence.
    Thank you for sharing this one, Michelle.
    Hugs,
    Jackie

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  7. Chris: He worked for the parking authority. The machines were just to collect parking meter change.

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  8. So, this afternoon, I was parked in A Watertown parking lot (Suldog knows the one) and on my way out of the CVS pharmacy, I put a quarter into the expired meter next to where I was parked.

    OKAY MICHELLE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

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  9. Yes, Bruce, I am. You are a good soul!

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  10. Good one, Michelle!
    These are called Random Acts of Kindness (there was a book of the same title some years ago), and I have one for you, sort of like Chris@Knucklehead's. Rodney and I were on our way to meet someone from Hospice to help us figure out how to deal with his dad, who was dying. We stopped a couple of miles from home at a Burger King to get something to eat and some coffee. When we got to the window, we were told we didn't owe anything, that the guy in front of us had taken care of it for us. What? Really?? We looked carefully at his car, pulling away, and tried to recognize him: this is St. Augustine, after all, and you often find you DO know each other. But we didn't know this guy. He was just planting one of the seeds of Random Kindness. We have passed along this magic in our own small ways. Thank you for an EXCELLENT post. Love, love.

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  11. We agree with Bruce that the true angels do their work quietly, so we usually don't notice them. However, when we do witness acts of kindness it makes one want do the same. It's contagious. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it became an pandemic. :o)

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  12. Yep! Random Acts of Kindness -truly a great gesture for people to do for others. Even simple little things like just holding a door for other folks can be enough to bring a smile and lighten the load (and the day) for someone else!
    I had something happen to me about 2 weeks after I had been diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago this past March when a gentleman from our church showed up here at the house to "visit" me. Now he and his wife and I are good friends -have been for well over 50 years -but what he did that night, I will never ever forget. Although we a good friends, we don't have the type of friendship that we "socialize" together, go out for dinner or a drink or anything like that. So when he went to leave and he put his hand in mine, he pressed some paper money in there for me, telling me it was just a little something to help me cause with all the trips I was going to have to make for radiation and doctor appts. and such, gas is not cheap, so here you go! Okay, it was a really kind, thoughtful gesture on his part and I thanked him very much for the gift. After he left though, when I opened my hand, there were 10 one hundred dollar bills! I almost went into a dead faint! He had asked that I not tell anyone he'd done this and that had me wondering if he'd done this with or without his wife's knowledge. I still don't have an answer to that as I'd very much still like to thank his wife too but since I don't know if she knew about his generosity or not, I can't say anything to her about this. (Note: I don't feel guilty about the money as I know they have a very handsome income and that much was pretty much a drop in the bucket to them but still, there's nothing that says he (or they) had to come give me anything but a visit and offer of prayers perhaps, ya know. Needless to say, since I had no job, had also lost my unemployment compensation then too in order to qualify for medical assistance, that gift sure was a life saver for me in so many ways!

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  13. Now I am sorry I didn't get to see the two weeks worth of posting that you deleted. As to people doing small acts of kindness, I have many times been pleased when someone opened a door for me. One time I locked myself out of my car at a convenience store in the rain. A young man inside volunteered to go out in the cold winter rain and try to get it open. I mean he volunteered!

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  15. Ahem, cough.. decided to come back for a second go. Yes, I have been fortunate enough to meet many Angels along the way, un-sung hero's that have touched me deeply.

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  16. That's pretty awesome, it is the little (kind) things that make a difference.

    You might want to check out one of my early posts on something that touches on this at The Leather Jacket

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  17. Hello, dearest Michelle! What a lovely tale of kindness...and an inspiration to "pay it forward." Thank you! And I want you to know that you are continually in my thoughts...sorry that this is all ongoing...and hope there is some positive resolution for you soon! You are in my prayers! Love you, Janine XO

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  18. There were two different people in two different airports two decades apart who noticed a person in distress and cared enough to see her safe. She is still looking for an opportunity to pay it forward.

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  19. Sorry I'm so late commenting on this; I've been busy, and my computer has been acting up. Not that you need an excuse from me, or anything. It's a great story, at any rate.

    Once, when we were on vacation Up North, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge, which has a toll of something like $2.50. I got out my wallet, and had my toll ready, but the toll-taker-person told me that the driver ahead of me had paid my toll for me. Which was sweet, and a nice gift from the Universe, and all that Random Acts of Kindness stuff, and I was duly blessed. But I'd gone to all the trouble of getting the toll out of my pocket, so I just told him that I'd pay for the car behind me.

    Freely you have received, freely give, and all that. . .

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  20. I call that paying it forward. It really only works when one expects absolutely nothing in return.

    Right below the header on my original blog is a badge that I use to try to remember to stay upbeat. You can use it too, if you wish.

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  21. It's the little things like that which restore my faith in the inherent goodness of people.

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  22. Love stories like this *smiling*

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  23. Just thinking of you, dearest Michelle!! Love you, Janine XO

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