I was thinking about random acts of kindness when I read on our City Facebook page about a stranger shoveling someone’s sidewalk for them. It happens a lot around here. But it meant something to them, because at the time, they couldn’t shovel it. That random act of kindness meant more than even intended. And it can sometimes, mean more than the person ever thought. And that is the wonderful thing about random acts of kindness.
It can be simple things like when I go to the ER for a migraine and the nurse puts me in a separate room with the lights off. That is a kindness in regards to the pain I feel.
Or friends and family that get me out of the house for coffee… that is something that means a lot to me, more than the coffee.
A psychologist who used to close the blinds, and only have one indirect lamp in the corner for me.
An employee saying my boss was wrong to force me into work (9 level pain) and for forcing me to stay (said I couldn’t leave)… and then told me to go home. Only then in the face of her shocked expression did I realize I had rights and agreed that yes, I shouldn’t have come in in the state I was in.
For those who have shoveled our sidewalk… but usually it is my spouse who is doing that random act of kindness. He is good at that. He likes helping his neighbours.
But some random acts of kindness from complete strangers have stuck with me for very long stretches of time because they meant a great deal to me but I bet not much to the person. Their kindness is something I remember because of its impact on me.
One was a simple thing. A simple act. I had this box of books I couldn’t carry. I kept putting it down. Staring at it. In pain. Muscle fatigue. I knew I couldn’t get to my car with it. I knew I couldn’t get back inside with it. It was an impossible task. Along comes a man who offered to help. Just being nice. And he did. Which is wonderful and a nice thing to do. But the pain and fatigue I was in, and in for days from my attempt… it meant a Lot to me for something so small for him. So I remember.
A much more significant one was when I was working at a hotel front desk right out of university. Great boss there. And I was working Christmas Eve. Unfortunately the shift work there was causing my migraines to go nuts. And I was having horrible vomiting spells… once I start, I couldn’t stop. And that happened. I was so sick. In so much pain. My boss tried so hard to find someone to cover for me but they all had plans. A stranger comes in to register. He knows my boss. Turns out he used to work the front desk. I am sitting down resting in the back. So I don’t hear what they say. But in the end, he offered to take the rest of my shift so I could go home! A perfect stranger to him. I know it was to help my boss, who he knew. But I will remember this forever that he helped me when I was suffering so much. An act of kindness like that is unforgettable.
There have been others. Just small little things that sometimes brighten my day when I was having such a very bad pain day. Where such a small little thing sparked up my day a bit. Someone buying me a coffee for example. I mean, it is so small but on a really bad pain day it is a small thing to just give me a boost.
I wish they were more common than they are. I can think of dozens of horrible examples to every nice thing people do. More than that actually. But I cherish these small acts of kindness. And you know I remember that boss at the hotel desk job just as much as I remember that stranger… because she was one of the few Good bosses I had. My next boss was another great one. But I have had more horrible ones, than good ones. Some so horrible when it comes to chronic illnesses they made me physically worse to work under the conditions they promoted.
They say mentally you remember bad things easier than good things. But I don’t know. These good things they stick out in my mind for their precious rarity. They shine in my memory. You never know the impact of one random act of kindness is going to have on the person you are doing it for. It could be immense. It is powerful sharing a kindness.