A Random Act of Kindness

“What are some things you have done?” is what Damond Nollan asked recently when he spoke about performing a random act of kindness. Believe it or not (for those of you who think you know me so well :-p), I do little things all the time, but I don’t really think about it much so it was hard for me to come up with an answer. Then I remembered something that happened about a month ago…

I wasn’t having a particularly bad day, but I wasn’t in the best of moods either.  When I get like this, I like to get out and drive… just drive.  I was driving down the street (because the driving on sidewalks is illegal, apparently) and I saw this guy walking along the road. It must’ve been 100° outside. He was carrying a small suitcase in one hand and an overstuffed garment bag over his other shoulder. Now, I know you’re not supposed to pick up strangers along side of the road. But you should’ve seen this poor guy.

As I got closer to him, my fist instinct was to stop and pick him up. Then I thought about that whole picking-up-strangers thing and passed him. I looked into the rear view mirror and the next thing I know, the car turned into the next parking lot entrance ahead. So I drove the car around and pulled up next to him, rolled down the window and asked him if he needed a lift. He looked at me, then looked at the car, then back at me (mabye the Old Spice guy should be telling this story), and nodded his head.  His shirt was completely soaked from sweat. He got in and said he wasn’t going too much further, then thanked me.

We started talking.  He told me he had been walking all day, from one store to another all over town, filling out job applications. He had stopped at the Salvation Army where he cashed in a voucher for some clothes and was now on his way back to the homeless shelter where he had been for almost a month now. That’s why the suitcase and the garment bag, I gathered.

He and a friend of his from California had decided to go to Florida for whatever reason. Unfortunately for this guy, his so-called friend ditched him and now he was stuck in this small little town. He was surprised when I told him that I had been homeless too, with two kids in tow. Especially since I was driving this really nice, practically brand-new car. We traded stories for a couple of minutes before we reached the shelter (which would’ve been at least another two miles of walking for him). He got out of the car, I handed a $10 bill (which was all I had on me at the time).  He said thank you, closed the door and that was it.

For the rest of the day, memories of how it felt to be alone, abandoned, desperate, unloved and living in a homeless shelter with two kids under the age of three, filled my thoughts. That was such a dark time for me. Then I began thinking about how I was able (with God’s (or some higher power) help) to pull through it. I thought about everything I have now and how far I had come from that dark place… and how grateful and generally happy I am now.

So what started out as one random act of kindness by giving some stranger a lift, ended in a stranger giving me a lift… in my mood and brightening up my day by reminding me of what I have, where I am, and how much I’m loved. Meeting him was exactly what I needed that day. Funny how things work sometimes.

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11 thoughts on “A Random Act of Kindness

  1. First I heard of this. You are lucky the story ended like it did, and not “Wife and mother of three found raped and murdered”. Next time, don’t pick up a hitchhiker. Random act of kindness? Random act of lapse-of-good-judgement…

  2. I think you did a great thing, but I do not recommend it (being an ex-police officer). I might have stopped at just giving him the cash. That is just the cynic in me… I like to do little things too. I usually do them for the kids at the school, but yesterday I did help an older gentleman finish paying for his groceries. I cannot stand that feeling you get when you are short at the register. I am always paying attention to those around me and hoping I can be there for someone. I remember living with less and having to “grocery shop” at my friends house (thank you Dawn!)…and having a meth-head take my last dollar out of my purse when I had three babies to feed…so, any act of kindness is award worthy in my book. Pay it forward, but don’t stop there.

    • Now that’s what I’m talking about. Something as simple as picking up the difference for someone who’s short at the grocery store. Stuff like that – I do that all the time and it’s always sweeter when of the kids is with me. Here’s another quick story for ya…

      Jacob must’ve been 4yrs. old. We went to Sears and I let him bring his DS inside with him. Well, he left it sitting in the shoe department. When I discovered it was gone, we went back to find it. The DS was nowhere to be found. Then I saw a kid about the same age playing with one and I knew it was Jacob’s. I asked the kid where he got it. Just as he was telling me he found it, his mother came up to us with that evil-eye glaring at him. He said he found it in a chair. I could tell the mother was irked at him for telling me. But ya know what? I pulled out $2 and gave it to the kid and told him how much I appreciated his honesty and I thanked him for returning it to Jacob… and did it right in front of the mother and her other two children.

  3. Annie, this is a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. I wish I had known you were homeless at that time. If I had, things would have been different for you. But I didn’t know. I think what you did for this gentleman is wonderful. I like to think we would all do the same thing, but I know better. I know I would have. It’s a fact that every time we do something nice for somebody in need, we actually do something nice for us, too. It’s always a win-win situation. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

    • I’m sure you would’ve helped me during that time, but I think it was something I needed to go through. It was while I was in the shelter, that I really began to find out who I was, and found that other people liked me just for me. That was the first time in my life I felt as though I had something worth offering. 🙂

      • I’m glad something good came of that experience, Annie. You are a wonderful person and a delightful niece. You have ALWAYS had something worth offering. I’m glad you know that now.

  4. Great read! I think that people need to look at the world around them and help when they can. Reminds me of when I went to Target one day and noticed a Jeep Cherokee near the from curb with an elderly woman next to it on the ground. There was a woman standing over her panicking because the elderly woman must have fell.

    That was the fact, she missed the curb getting into the car and injured her arm and had a laceration on her head. No one seemed to want to help. I went over and helped her up and sat here in the car until help could arise. I guess no one would help in fear of being sued in this day and age.

    • It’s still unbelievable to me how people can be so uncaring sometimes. I was probably seconds from seeing a head-on collision once. There was a car in a ditch off the side of the road and another in the middle of the road, blocking a little bit of the two middle lanes (4 lane road) and no one had stopped. Even with two kids in the car, I turned back around to help. The driver of the car in the middle of the road, was unconscious. The other driver, in the ditch was barely conscious and bleeding profusely from his head. I couldn’t believe no one else had stopped. I didn’t know what to do except to wave at people (long before I ever had a cell phone) to call 911 and try to keep the bleeding driver awake. I stayed until the ambulance came (14min. later). Not one other person stopped. Not one. Talk about frustrating. I don’t know what the outcome was of either driver. 😦

      • You did GOOD that time, Annie. I did that once. Your grandma was with me. It was in Virginia and a little old man had missed a curve and overturned in the middle of the road. Gas was pouring out everywhere and there was a guy SMOKING like it was no big deal! I made him put out the cigarette and crawled inside the car and made sure the man was still breathing. I also made sure someone had called the police and an ambulance and I stayed there and helped direct traffic until they arrived. As soon as everything was under control and the police had control of the situation, I left. I never did find out if the man lived and it didn’t really matter — what mattered was that I had helped in a time of need and God would take care of the rest. Mom didn’t quite know what to think that day. She told me she had always thought I was shy, but that I didn’t appear to be at the time. I just laughed because there is not a shy bone in my body! I was working for the Police Department in Radcliff, KY at the time and was off duty but always had to carry my badge wherever I went, and it was one of the things they had stipulated was in my job description, to stop and render aid whenever I saw an accident, so I did, but I would have anyway because it’s the right thing to do.

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