The topic of kindness might be particularly timely given the current political climate. We, myself included, need to remember that we are human beings first, then all else. All humans depend upon other humans for their survival and quality of life. I know it can be difficult, but that's part of the purpose of this blog.
I have always tried to do the little things to show kindness, like opening doors for people (man or woman), donate time to charities or a worthy organization, returning found money, giving rides, and many others. I once took a temp job for half my normal pay because it was for a non-profit business helping the blind. Throughout my career I have volunteered for a variety of projects and tasks that were helping people who were homeless or lower income. I never think of paying for the food order of the car in line behind me, but it might be something I would do. And, I believe in the concept of paying it forward.
We have also received kindness. A few years ago, after we bought our fifth wheel but before we went full time, we hosted an outing for our camping club in Eagle's Nest, New Mexico. We were among the last to depart at the end of the long weekend, and just has we hit Trinidad, Colorado, over five hours from home, the radiator burst on my pickup. We scrambled to find somewhere to repair it, but since it was Sunday, this took time. We finally found a repair shop who would look at it the next day, but we had to be at work that Monday and had to find a way to get home. We texted friend after friend to see if they were nearby, but all our camping buddies had passed Trinidad a while earlier. One couple, the Cryers, told us to stay put and wait. They were 85 miles north of us, but unhooked their rig and drove the hour-and-a-half to pick us up. We stopped back at their 5th wheel to re-hook-up and drive the last three hours home. To top off this incredibly selfless act, they loaned us their car for as long as it would take to retrieve the truck. The Cryers are perfect examples of the few who regularly perform acts of kindness. Their actions continuously motivate others to do the same.
Several of my friends and followers have offered their stories for this topic. Here are some of the great comments I received (I've edited or paraphrased some):
BLSMSS- The only act of kindness I could think of was helping a friend by being right by her side while she pushed the button to cremate her significant other after he passed. She didn’t have anyone else. She couldn’t be alone having to do that. I know it’s a bit gruesome, but that’s what friends do. An act of kindness should be a daily thing. We recently paid a toll for the person behind me. Even when I open a door for someone and they don’t thank me, I’ll say, "you're welcome," to get them to think about why I said it. I love being around kind people. Thank you to all my new kind friends
Canadian Hellie- I try to be kind whenever I can with smiles, with items, holding doors, saying hello, etc. I donated a bunch of items to our local food bank a couple of years ago and I'm always donating to our local Legion so that they can raise some money. On FB this December, they had a blog about anyone needing winter items to post what they needed. I delivered some winter boots, sweaters, etc., to a lady that left an abusive relationship in a hurry. Her teen daughter had already left and was living on the streets. She found her and last I heard, she was with her mom, but sounds like she needs counselling. Smiles are also very simple things; but can mean more than a million dollars to someone at certain times in their lives. Almost 2 years ago, I was in hospital with pneumonia and a nurse walked by and I smiled. She wasn't my nurse, but came into my room (I was in quarantine) and thanked me for that smile. She said she had just started her day and the first two patients she had seen, made her so upset, she was going to quit; but when she saw my smile, she almost cried with joy. Another time a lady and I went shopping while we camped with a couple last summer and she found a snowman that she bought. She thought she would change up her winter theme to snowmen. I bought and gave her a snowman wreath (two snowmen sitting on the wreath) and two other snowmen. She still talks about how great the wreath is. When I returned home from hospital two years ago, my next door neighbor brought over a casserole dish for our dinner, which was awesome as I was still very weak and not much interested in cooking.
Warren and Terry of NE PA- In 2010 I was laid of from my job and, even though companies can't age discriminate, there are ways around it. Well for two years I was on unemployment until it ran out. In the summer of 2011 floods hit our area and because I wasn't working I was able to help our local flood victims. Throughout the years we've helped with food pantries, delivering food baskets from our church to people that had no way of picking up goods at the church and helped with different things at the Senior Center we belonged to back home. On the receiving end, when we got to this campground with a new trailer we weren't 100% familiar with in the dark a neighbor here showed us an empty site and helped us back in. We greatly appreciated that help because it was 9:30 at night.
Habadabeer- I had a very similar experience when I was between jobs. Very easy to get down when your lifetime of experience isn’t valued. Some of the best experiences I had were meeting with a local group of unemployed/underemployed folks over 40. We kept each other going, shared leads and connections, and persevered. I get a very similar vibe from RVillage. I’ve been able to share some of the beauty I’ve experienced, and had others share expertise about issues that have plagued me. Both have been just what I need to keep going. At the site we just left, I did the following: 1) picked up the dog poop left behind when the couple next to us departed after what looked like two weeks! 2) made a wind chime out of alligator bones I found nearby and left it hanging in the tree, and 3) collected a bushel of giant snail shells and made a spiral formation surrounding the fire pit. My intent was to delight the next occupant with a whimsical display, but in hindsight it probably looks more like somebody performed a voodoo ceremony! LOL
John and Debbie M.- Didn’t happen to us but.... our friend just got a kidney from a live donor his niece!!!! Both are in hospital and doing well.
Nancy A.- About five years ago I had breakfast by myself at a Cracker Barrel. If I remember correctly it was a pretty big breakfast. When I asked for my bill the server said it had been paid by a couple who’d already left! Never saw them before or after! I’m still thankful for their generosity.
Seabreeze- I try to treat people the way I want to be treated, with a happy face, a smile, a wave. Let cars in in traffic when I can. It doesn't cost anything to be nice. Sometimes they take you for granted but it is reassuring when you get a Thank You! Pass it on!
LarandSus- We were at Starbucks on New Year’s Eve when a thin, elderly man came in. He went up to the baristas and asked them something which I didn’t hear. I heard them respond that they weren’t allowed to make phone calls. He looked around and then approached me, then said that the buses weren’t running, or not on the normal schedule (Starbucks is next to a major bus stop), and asked if I would call a taxi for him. I asked if he had money for the taxi, thinking I'd pay if he couldn't, but he said he did. So, I used my cell phone to call the cab and was able to track its approach and arrival on my phone. It was such a simple thing but hopefully allowed him to arrive home safely.
Greg W.- We have bought meals numerous times for homeless people.
TheClearyClan- About four years ago one of our kids and her four kids were evicted from their apartment. We took them in and they slept in our living room for three years. About a year ago she bought a mobile home and all has been going well since. By the way, the apartment she was evicted from is still unoccupied, four years and counting.
OBB Travels- Recently, on my commute home on my bicycle, I came across a guy (probably down on his luck) whose plastic grocery bags had busted. I stopped to help and gave him a nice heavy duty/reusable bag I had. He was surprised and I was happy I could help.
Jacki H.- Every day when I'm driving, I try to remember that everyone else needs to get in a lane that I'm in too, especially if it's a semi or a bus, and it doesn't hurt to let people over. I know I appreciate it when others let me in front of them. That extra 30 seconds isn't going to make or break my commute.
Kathy S.- I really enjoy paying for a stranger's meal, especially a veteran. Or paying for part of a drive thru order behind me. It's fun to be anonymous, and know you're doing good for your fellow man/woman/person
Nadyne H.- I don't remember too many acts of kindness that I've done, a little sobering to think I am not kind enough... Last year I ran across a gopher filled field in a California RV resort to get to a dog in distress. I didn't know what kind of dog or what the problem was, I was assuming there was a coyote involved though. Turns out it was a large, male pit bull suffering from severe separation anxiety who was trying to jump out of a 5th wheel cap window. He was stuck and his side was being cut up, so he was screaming for help. I got there just as he fell out of the window to the ground. I was talking to him so he Rand up to me for hugs, kisses and comfort! I think he may have out weighed me! Here was this huge pit bull running at me screaming! The park ranger was pulling up in a golf cart and she was terrified he was going to attack me. But I knew he just wanted some momma loving! I got him calmed down, gave him my bottle of water and the ranger went to find his people. Poor guy....
As a closing thought, I'll quote Ellen DeGeneres: "Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values."
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Another topic will be posted shortly.
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.