Acts of kindness have been around for as long as I can remember. It’s not new, now people tend to film them in order to coax us all into doing little random acts of kindness. The film ‘Pay it forward’ also brought this idea into the public’s eye. But, I don’t think we need this, we don’t need to be reminded to be nice to strangers, especially those who are in need, do we? Are we that bad, as a society, that we need these reminders? If you take five minutes,now. Think. Think about any kindness from a stranger that you received, witnessed or took part in. I bet there are many.
I started thinking about this,when I saw yet another video posted on Facebook showing an act of kindness. While I know these are lovely, inspiring and heart warming to watch, I can’t help but think, these people are looking for recognition for their acts, be it in the amount of ‘shares’, ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ their video receives. Does this not defeat the purpose? I mean, when I am witness to such acts or even taking part in such acts, my thoughts are not to grab my phone and hit record.
I remember my father, years ago, he hired a traveller to help him paint our house. Our neighbours warned my father this was not the best idea, as some travellers,( like settled people)could not be trusted. My fathers response to them was simple, “Well, then amock, maybe YOU shouldn’t hire them”. The travellers in our area were finding it difficult to get work, my fathers attitude was, if a man is willing to work to feed his family, traveller or not, then he deserves the chance to do it. “He is a man just like me!” I heard him laugh at the neighbours dismay. That man came and worked harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, he barely took a break, my mother had to insist he sit and eat the dinner she had made for him. He was very grateful and thanked my parents for giving him a (small) job. My father couldn’t have been paying him much, as we simply didn’t have it, so I have often wondered what made that man come back and paint day after day until the job was done. My father had said once, “It’s not always about money. There’s a certain pride that a man takes, in going out to work and supporting his family”~ something my own father could no longer do.
For me, that presented two examples, help a man out when he is down, if you can, and never judge anyone because of their background.My father, would never articulate this to me, but so many of his actions showed me.
I remember him (my father) not having as much as a pound, when our elderly neighbour needed a loaf of bread. He never told her, my mother or anyone, I just happened to overhear him telling the neighbour he’d get her the loaf.I watched him lift cushions, search pockets, then count his new found coins and leave for the shop. He handed her the loaf, telling her it was no problem,as he reminded us to go easy on the milk as it had to last until tomorrow.
I worked in a local supermarket for years, when a young woman was caught stealing. I was asked to sit with her in the managers office until the manager got there. The security guard trusted me not to let her leave. I was 19 years old. I watched her fumble in her handbag,her tears falling,hands shaken she pulled a used tissue out and wiped her eyes. I found it hard to look at her. She didn’t look like a thief, then again what does a thief look like? “Oh Jesus,” she sniffled. My boss and the security guard came back in with a box. ” Are you all right?” my boss asked her gently. The security guard placed the box on the table. “I’m so so sorry. I wouldn’t normally, ever, but…” she stammered.”Look it, the way I see it is, you could have taken a whole pack, you took one, only what you needed to get through” his voice softened. I watched as he handed her the single nappy, she had clearly taken. I felt a lump in my throat. “Tom here, has a box, we’d like you to have” he nodded at the security guard. Tom patted the box, telling her it’s ok, no one is getting into trouble. She cried. She cried so hard. I sat very still, I knew I was a witness to something remarkable here. “Walk her out there Geraldine, Tom will carry the box”. I stood up.I glanced in the box, nappies, baby milk, sudocream, wipes, liga …clearly baby items filled the box. I felt a smile flash across my lips, as my boss pointed at his lips and winked. ” Go on home to your baby” he patted her back as she thanked him over and over.
They are just a few random acts of kindness that I have been lucky enough to witness, I don’t need a video to remind me of these, they are engraved in my soul.I have tried my best to live up to both my fathers example and my boss’s, I’ve learned, the smallest acts are often the biggest.
“Pay it Forward”, it’s not new, it’s been going on for years. I bet you can all recall an act of kindness you were witness to, do you need a recording to remind you…I doubt it.