Humbled by Kindness

Just before this past Christmas, I was at the grocery store with both girls. We were picking up random things that I had forgotten the previous day – mind you, these random things were essential to the recipes I had planned for dinner AND were on the list. But of course, mom brain…

We rounded the corner in the produce section and I noticed an elderly couple chatting with one of the employees. They were chuckling and smiling and as their short conversation ended, this employee said, “It was so nice to see you, Merry Christmas!” And off she went, off they went and off we went to the other side of the store, to the wine section.

As we were checking out about 10 minutes later (in a busy store it felt like years) I noticed that elderly couple again a few rows over. The girls, bless them, were very good on this particular day. H was in the cart singing Christmas songs and E was holding on to the side, talking about Santa. As we waded through the people to the exit I didn’t notice that the elderly couple happened to be just ahead of us through the doorway. At the last second, we all made it outside at the same time and as I was trying to fit the blasted cart around him and his wife, trying not to squish my child between the cart and wall, he suddenly decides to turn and walks into my cart. Of course, I am apologizing profusely because I think I hit him and silently praying he doesn’t get angry with me and he begins apologizing as well and we both smile, laugh, wave and continue on our way through the parking lot.

As fate would have it, we parked in the same row as this couple, just a few spots down. I got the girls buckled in, the bags stowed in the back and walked the cart to the corral (I always put my cart away, I just can’t leave it bumped on the curb or in an empty stall, pet peeve) and as this lovely man closed the passenger door for his wife (what a gentleman!) he smiled at me and in that sweet tone said, “You’re children are just beautiful and full of light and so well behaved. Cherish them, the time goes so fast.” My heart melted. I poured a thousand ‘thank yous’ out to him, we both said Merry Christmas and as I sat in the car and took a moment to let the last moment sink in, I felt so humbled by this man’s incredibly kind words and the care he showed to me and my children. It made me think of the few people like him that I have encountered throughout my life. The people that will give a kind word to a total stranger, or that will help one in the time of need no matter the task…

When I was in college, I chose to commute to my small school (Judson University, Go Eagles!). I drove a small car and in the dead of winter, icy roads and all, I made my way down to Elgin and back every single day. For those of you that don’t know, Elgin is about 45-min to an hour drive, one way. On this particular day, I am driving along in my little car, on the busiest road of the trip, singing to my favorite songs when I hit a patch of ice. I slid sideways into a small snow bank and got stuck. I tried to maneuver my way out but my tires just kicked up mud and I was getting deeper each time I hit the gas. What the hell was I going to do? I called dad, he was even farther away than Elgin at this point, my mom was driving her bus (she’s a school bus driver, FYI) and all of my siblings were either in school or away at school (I’m the eldest of 4, by the way). I was f*cked. I started dialing my advisor to let him know I wasn’t going to make it to my classes that morning when a mini van stopped on the opposite side of the road. Two older gentlemen were inside and motioned for me to roll down my window. The exchange went something like this:
“Are you stuck?”
“Yes, and I’m going to be late for class.”
“Are you okay? Did you call anyone?”
“Yes, but everyone is too far away right now. My dad’s on his way but he’ll be about an hour.”
“Alright, I’ll turn around and pull up behind you and see if we can help, okay?”
“Oh, thank you, thank you so much!”

After about 10 minutes, I was still in the mud when another good samaritan in a truck pulled up behind the other gentlemen. This time a big, burly looking guy jumps out and asks if he can lend a hand. He gets a shovel out of his truck and the three men analyze the situation and tell me to get in and hit the gas when they say. I comply, because really I’m at their mercy now. Big-burly starts to dig, the other two start pushing and they tell me to hit it. I do and mud spews up and all over one of the mini-van guys. He is literally covered from head to toe with thick, cakey mud and soaking wet. His friend laughs and I start to cry. Big-burly says, “Don’t worry, we are close, when you hit it this time, don’t let up and just go. Traffic is getting heavier so you’re going to have to just keep going,” nodding my head is the only form of communication I can muster and I wipe my eyes. They try again, I hit the gas when they say, and off I go. I slow down to say thank you and they all just wave me on to keep going. I look in the mirror and see the muddy guy and his friend smiling, and big-burly is waving and shaking his head like my dad when I’ve done something idiotic. I could not have been more grateful for total strangers in my life. To this day, almost 12 years later, I still thank God often for them and their help and hope that he is blessing them for their amazing kindness and care for me. A stranger, a young girl, stuck on the side of the road, needing help, and they did so without hesitation. Miraculously, I made it to my first class in the nick of time…

This is the kindness that we need to see more of. Unsolicited, raw, real care, real love for other humans. We are all deserving of it. The media tries to sell us the stories of the bad and the ugly, but that’s because we watch it, we read it, we forward it on; they give us what we show them we want. However they can get the ratings, the top story, the drama. The good guy stories are all too few and far between and when I see one, I wonder why there aren’t more, and if you’re like me, you lose a little faith in humanity. And then something like these two stories happens to you or someone you know and for the moment, faith restored. So let’s get out there and make more of the good guy stories happen. Let’s fill the air waves with kindness, caring and love for one another. Let’s show that stranger a smile, give a kind word, because when it happens to you, it means the world – spread it, share it, show it, give it, be it. Go forth friends and humble someone with your kindness…

img_6403.jpgSince You Can Be Anything, Be Kind Print – Mama Said Tees

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