It’s not always random… but sometimes it is
Even in the midst of all the unkind acts related to social media and other wackiness going on, there was a time a few years ago when random acts of kindness were being promoted. I’m sorry that sort of thing seems to have faded away, because you can never have too much kindness in our world. Now we have this.
I recently heard one of those kindness stories. A former Marysville High School grad moved to the San Diego, California area many years ago. She has made her life there and has a son in college out west. She loves California and will probably never return to live in this area, even though her family would like it. We think of California as maybe a little not in our world, but you may change your mind here in just a second.
This young lady liked her job, but it didn’t provide great health insurance and she just moved on to a new company for that reason. But last week she had an eye problem. In fact, she has had an ongoing eye situation and didn’t return to see her doctor because her insurance would not pay for it. She put it off and put it off until the new situation arose and she needed to get in to see the eye doctor quickly.
When he finally saw her, they reminded each other that they were both from Ohio, he from Upper Arlington in the Columbus area and she from Marysville. They renewed acquaintances and he helped her with her eye problem and then asked why she hadn’t returned since he expected to see her some time ago.
She explained that money is tight, her son is in college and her insurance doesn’t cover these types of visits. But she assured him that she had brought cash that day to pay for it. They discussed insurance policies and problems they can cause. At the end of the appointment, he said he would see her again in a month.
When she went to the checkout desk to pay her bill, she asked how much it would be? The lady at the desk said that there was no charge. What a kind thing for the doctor to do. Our Marysville native was so surprised and so appreciative. You see there are kind people everywhere, and some Californians come from the Midwest.
This random act of kindness happened in the grocery store. The people were in front of me and I watched it occur. The woman who was checking out was short of cash to pay her bill. We were being held up in line because they were trying to figure out how she was going to pay for the things that had already been rung up and were in bags ready to go. The person behind her said, “How much do you need.” The clerk at the cash register said, “$19.50.” The woman behind her took the money out, handed it to the clerk and it was a done deal.
The customer said, “Oh I thank you, so much. How could I pay you back?”
The donor told her, “No thank you – I’m just glad to help you today.” Wow, that was nice. No names were exchanged and everyone went on their way.
The third act of random kindness is one I have seen happen several times. The driver pulls up to the checkout window at a fast food restaurant. You know, they always ask for your money first before they give you anything. The driver then pays for their order and says, “I would like to pay for the person behind me.” After that amount is paid, the random act of kindness is done and the donor moves on.
When this occurs, I have also noticed that the drive-through workers are not that surprised anymore. They are used to seeing people pay for others. Sometimes, I understand that payment will go on down the line. The person behind will pay for the next person and so on, so that there’s a lot of goodwill going on. Often I have seen it happen for less than five dollars. Every once in a while it is a little more. You might want to try it today, if it’s a day when you feel like you can spare a little extra … that is, if you go through a drive-through window. But then who doesn’t do that?
When this pay-it-forward idea first came into play, I was at a downtown restaurant in Marysville with another gal. Our bill was to be around $25 and the server came over and told us that someone had paid our bill. We were shocked. We didn’t know anybody else in the restaurant at that time. When pressed to find out who it was, the server really didn’t want to tell us, but finally gave in and pointed with just her nose to the table where our benefactor was sitting. We simply nodded in appreciation.
The server said they just wanted to do a random act of kindness. This was my first experience with it and didn’t quite know what to do. We decided we would pass it on, so we gave the money to our server as a tip. Hopefully that made her day and she could pass the kindness on to someone else in some way.
All of these examples feature payment of money, but there are many ways to help with random acts of kindness. I know several church groups are currently volunteering time in strangers’ homes, doing repairs and maintenance. Maybe you want to look for a place today where you can help someone.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)