April 08, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I was blessed by a complete stranger yesterday by a random act of kindness. I had to go to the Social Security Office, yes, collective groaning allowed, and this would be the 3rd branch in the Twin Cities I've graced with my presence in the last few weeks. To preface briefly, I need a replacement card, so I drove to the nearest location in Edina a while back. Got a sitter for the kids and all, thank you sister.  Upon entering the building I find a huge sign directing me to either the St. Paul or Minneapolis location? This would’ve been a useful post to include on the website before I drove down there. This week, I headed down to the St. Paul location, hum, another large sign, to Minneapolis. Again, why not on the website? Now, if there is one thing that I do not care for in this great state, it is driving in Minneapolis. Panic attack in full swing. I don't get it, can't maneuver it and I always get lost. Then there is always the parking situation to contend with too, and one wrong turn on Lake Street and I'm in trouble. St. Paul I can deal with, Minneapolis and I, we don't get along so well. So I log onto MapQuest (yes, I’m still old school like that, no I-anythings or GPS) and with my directions in hand, the kids and I head down to Minneapolis. I did get lost, darn one ways, but found my way to the office eventually, and luckily they had a parking lot! I enter the building and get my number from the kiosk directly, R33. The place was packed. They were on R194. After 200, the numbers start from one again. I ask the attendant approximately how long the wait might be and he says hour to hour and a half. Whoa, that was discouraging, but I had planned for that. I had just hoped at two o'clock in the afternoon it wouldn't be so busy. The kids were doing great and I'd filled my handy dandy diaper bag with lots of goodies healthy snacks and things to occupy their time. The man sitting next to us seemed very interested in the Thomas the Tank Engine book as we read, and commented on how many more times I might be reading that little gem in the next hour. I told him it didn't bother me, we didn't have anywhere to be and it gave me some time to just "sit" with my kids, without any other distraction. Ready for this? He pulled out his ticket, R5, and said, "here, take my number, I'll trade with you". Of course I said no, I couldn't possibly, but he insisted and hey, I wasn't going to talk him out of it before he changed his mind. Note, my cynical side briefly set in and I checked the ticket’s authenticity ever so carefully just to be sure. Tactfully mind you. I then shared with him how absolutely gracious he was, and how touched I was by his kindness. I also thanked him for showing my children genuine humanity and selflessness; that life lesson will speak volumes to their character. About 20 minutes later, R5 was called over the speaker; I gave him one last shot and he just said, "Go on".

What a blessing this man was to my family. I think in this world where faster is better and we’ve got no time to spare, it is such an enormous gift to give someone your time. That is a gift so precious to all. And he unselfishly gave a complete stranger and hour and a half. The human spirit just moves me. So often we are so cynical of people these days. And rightly so it would seem. After all isn't that what the nightly news teaches us? To be alert, code orange, be suspect, trust no one, be a watchdog.  And if you heap all the personal betrayal onto that, who stands a chance?  I love when the human spirit or Holy Spirit just breaks free and refuses to play by the earthly rules, the self-serving, sarcastic, skeptical rules. I like to think the right thing is that little voice in our head, the voice that you know you should trust, but it would make things harder, longer, and less easy. To be obedient to that voice, to God, to the Golden Rule is the hardest choice most often. That is putting God first and foremost, by following his commands and example. Well the way I’m talking this stranger up here, you’d have thought it was the Dalai Lama sitting by me or something. Just another reason we need to see more kindness in this world, and that only begins with us.

I gave that stranger, Mike, a hug when I left. Incredible day, amazing blessing, I'm looking to the future with anticipation at my chance to pay it forward.

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."

-Amelia Earhart


Let me know what you think by posting a comment or sending me an email, bubblegumonmyshoe@yahoo.com. I promise not to stalk you if you do!