Random Acts Of Kindness – Like a Good Meal, It Fills Us Up

Photo: pollsb.com

A post by Amber West started the ball rolling, suggesting we go without that something extra for a week (such as Starbuck’s, eating out, movies, etc.) and instead putting that money towards a greater cause (such as St. Jude’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen For The Cure).

That was followed by another blog by Barbara McDowell about random kindness with giving our time and effort.  It hit a soft spot in me and moved me to comment on her blog, sharing a story of something that happened to me earlier that evening.  Or, should I say, to me and another person in my town.

A cashier at the local grocery store to be exact.

As this cashier was ringing up my purchases, I noticed that she looked like she was about to cry.  I asked if she was all right and her response was a little mumbled, so I didn’t hear what she said.  Of course, now the poor cashier was the center of attention as the others in line waited to see what happened, and rather than embarrass her, I just let it drop.  After she scanned my Dark Chocolate Mounds candy bar, I picked it up and offered it to her, telling her that the chocolate would make her feel better.  After a bit of hesitation, she agreed, but she still looked bummed out.  So, after the groceries were stashed in the cart, I walked around to where she stood and pulled her into a hug – and she returned it whole-heartedly, like she really, really needed it.

And you know what?  I needed it, too.  Offering the only thing I had at that particular moment – human contact and love – to someone who obviously needed it, ironically filled me up, instead of depleting my energy.  And I think we parted ways feeling pretty good.

It happens that way.  The act of giving one’s self, time, energy, money – when given freely, it only grows.  A kind word, a meaningful touch, or an encouraging smile, is sometimes all it takes to keep another person’s head above the muck just long enough for them to reach for a thread of hope.

I’ll never forget an incident many, many moons ago, when I was on the receiving end of such generosity.

When my boys were still very young, I was in a grocery store parking lot (what is it about grocery stores??),  in a major downpour, trying to get the boys in their car seats before loading the groceries into the back of my car.  I was making a quick rundown of everything I had bought, thinking to first grab the things that would be ruined by the rain.  Before I had gotten through that list, a woman had approached and started loading my groceries into my car really, really fast, before pushing her own rain-soaked grocery cart towards her car several spaces down.  I think I put one bag in my car to her five.  Yeah, she was quick.  When she was done, she had never looked back and never said a word.

I didn’t get a chance to thank her.  I really wish I had.

It’s those little things we do for others – like holding doors open, picking up something that was dropped – that shows others that we are in tune with our surroundings, intently aware of them and what they might need at that moment.  What a gift to give.  It shows others that they are worthy of our time and effort.  And who doesn’t love feeling worthy?

Photo: kenlauher.com

And that lady in the parking lot that helped me so many years ago?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

How about you?  Are you compelled to offer random acts of kindness?  How often do you see kindness around you?  Let’s keep the momentum going, and strive to keep paying it forward!

About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on October 4, 2011, in Friendships, Human, Personal, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Diana, I usually offer to take the empty cart, especially for an elderly person or harried young mom. Sometimes just a smile to a shopper puts a smile on the other’s face. Is this what women do? : )

  2. You’re gonna make a grown man cry, Diana. I really hope I get to meet you one day and get one of those hugs! You’ve already thanked that nice lady by letting her help you. I’m sure she took more away from it than you received.

    Isn’t that the way it is and should be? You do something without expectation or need of thanks and you walk away smiling inside and out. Everyone should try it.

    What a great post!

  3. This is so sweet! Thank you so much for showing yet another way we can take a moment to give back.

  4. Two years ago…a few days before Christmas, I was shopping at a grocery store (yes, another grocery store story- where all the magic happens). When I scanned my card to pay, I accidently hit “debit” instead of “credit”. I told the young cashier that I could never remember my pin number and he needed to cancel it so I could swipe as a credit instead. “Try it now,” he said. So I swiped my card. Nope. “Try it now,” he repeated. Still nothing. I explained again, “I need this to ring as a credit, not a debit. Did you cancel the debit?”
    “I got it. Try it again,” he casually waited. I swiped a third time. (cricket sound)
    “Oh, the machine is declining your card and says you have to call Visa directly. Sometimes that happens because you entered your pin number wrong too many times.”
    I cry when I get frustrated and fought back the tears, “But I told you to cancel the debit because I didn’t know my pin number.”

    “Bummer. Stand over there and let me get the manager.”

    While I waited, I called my bank who said there was nothing they could do, the funds in my account were frozen by Visa for two to three days to protect me from fraudulent use. I could not hold back the tears any longer because I knew I had nothing to eat at home.

    Just then, an angel named Henry appeared with a badge that read: Manager. I quickly wiped my tears and told him the story letting him know I just got paid and had plenty of money.

    He grabbed the receipt from the cashier and walked over to the Customer Service area. He pulled his wallet from his pocket and handed the cashier his card.

    “No, no, no. Thank you, but that is not necessary!” I said.
    “Merry Christmas. Enjoy your holiday.” he smiled as he walked away.
    I stood there stunned and didn’t know what to say or do. So I pushed my cart and cried all the way to my car. Happy tears of course.

    I returned with a Thank You note the next day, and wrote a letter to the corporate offices letting them know what an amazing manager they had in Henry.

    Wherever you are Henry, I am still so grateful for your act of kindness! Thank you!

  5. Thanks for the blog link love Diana! And Dannie is right about the thanks shown by letting someone help you. I just had a talk with someone this weekend about how they block their blessings. None of us are so perfect that we don’t have needs. Keep on hugging!

  6. What a sweet post. Sometimes it’s so easy to go about life and forget the people around you are living it, too – the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Breaking the bubbles we operate in in order to reach out to the person next to us is a very, very good thing.

  7. I love random acts of kindness. They are beautiful and from the heart.

  8. Fantastic post. I try hard to live in the ‘pay it forward’ moment. Most often the gift of kindness, understanding and a slice of empathetic time we give to others is truly to a gift to ourselves. I wish the concept would go viral. What a world that would be! Thanks for your words.

  9. Thanks for this post. It reminded me of a time I helped an old gentleman. I was driving down a street and saw this old man trying to drag his dustbin out of his drive. He was really struggling. I pulled over, jumped out of the car and asked him where he wanted it. It made me feel good for the rest of the day! Not sure if he was happy though, lol.

  10. Lovely post Diana. I’m inspired by all my blogging friends to take up this challenge and will post my blog about it on Monday. Having given up coffee and junk food already, it was hard to find something, but my trainer gave me a great idea. You’ll find out Monday!

    Until then, I’ll leave you with this: one day my husband and I were walking near his work around lunchtime and I smiled at gentleman who was walking toward us. He looked grumpy and kept walking, so I said, “Good morning, have a nice day!” The man gave me a quick look and the tiniest bit of a smile.

    My husband was like, “Do you have to say hello to everyone you see?” I just shrugged and told him that yes, I do. What if that man was having the worst morning of his life and all it took was a little kindness from a stranger to turn his day around? It costs me nothing to smile and give a friendly hello.

    Darned if my husband doesn’t greet everyone we see walking now. Gives me giggle on the inside every time he does.

  11. You are such a wonderful person, Diana! Thank you for helping a girl when she needed a smile. 🙂

  12. Lovely post that serves to remind us of the importance of paying it forward. If we all exercised acts of kindness on a daily basis, this world would be a better place. Here’s to showing kindness every day!

  13. Kudos to you for doing the right thing.. 😀 I love making people feel better. It always makes me feel better. Holding the door for someone, giving directions, telling someone it is all going to work out.. even pitching in some change at the local Wawa Store to the person in front of me that is short.

    I think that is so awesome that you gave that girl a hug. She really need that hug. 😀


  14. We can feel the needs of others if we are able to pay attention (sometimes we must concentrate on children, lists, etc.) Nearly every trip to the grocery store will reveal someone who needs kindness. Sometimes it is me! Not that I’m devastated, but I may have dropped something, and can’t get down low enough to retrieve it. I ask for help when I need it, and folks are so happy to be of service. I offer to reach things for folks riding a cart. My blog yesterday was about a delightful man that offered to assist me … I didn’t need it, but the offer lifted me. Many conversations in the grocery store have lifted spirits, made folks feel better, re-energized a grumpy checker.

    My husband, alone, on a cold, raining & blustery night, butchered a moose on a return trip from Alaska , after a truck hit it. He called the authorities in BC and the moose was given to the homeless shelter in the next town.

    Thank you, Diana, for reminding us how ‘paying it forward’ kindness can shift coping abilities in our fellow man wherever they happen.

  15. Those are wonderful, inspirational stories, Diana. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  16. Really enjoyed this post! Nice work! 🙂

  17. Diana, you are an amazing and a very inspiring woman.

    I see acts of kindness all around me and always try to pay it forward. It simply feels good to help someone. As for the hugs, they can do wonders 🙂

  18. The giver is the receiver, Diana. One cold November night several years ago, I had a homeless man touch me. He greeted me as he walked out the door, rather than begging me, as I walked into a convenience store. He was all smiles, but obviously homeless. He had a cup of coffee in his hands to try to keep him warm. I left the store to go to KFC because my wife had a hard day and wanted me to pick up dinner on the way home. The man haunted me the whole way to KFC. When I got there, I ordered our meals, and then I ordered the largest meal they had with all the fixins. I drove it back to the convenience store hoping he was still there. He was. He was sitting on the sidewalk drinking his coffee. I walked up to him, handed him the meal, and said, “Everyone should have a hot meal on a night like tonight.” He was dumbfounded, and just smiled. I got into my car and backed out of the parking spot. I looked in my rear view mirror to see him take off his sock hat and say grace over his food, thanking God for the meal. I had to stop my car because I couldn’t see through the tears (just like right now). This was several years ago, and I still wonder what happened to that man. He got a meal, but I got a memory of helping someone in need. The giver is the receiver. Thanks for a great blog, Diana.

    • Kerry, that is an amazing story. It is so true – that the giver’s world expands so much more after an act of kindness. Perhaps because at that moment we are passing to another soul the eternal love that we are all about. There’s nothing quite like that feeling, is there? Big hugs to you, Kerry.

  19. Thanks Diana, I found your blog through Jennifer Jensen’s blog. I love random acts of kindness and paying it forward. Sometimes I forget how much I like it. One of my favourite things to do was back when I lived in an apartment with a communal laundry in Vancouver. If I went down to do a wash and someone’s stuff in the dryer was done, I’d quickly fold it all and try to sneak out before the owner of the clothes came to collect them. I called myself the laundry fairy and got a real chuckle out of trying not to get caught. I think one or two people felt a bit uncomfortable about someone folding their underwear, but oh well. I think mostly they were surprised in a good way. 🙂

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