Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Little Things

The other day I helped a woman carry her groceries to her car after she dropped a flat of cat food on the ground. She was really apologetic over it. I told her she didn't need to apologize, that I didn't mind giving her hand. This woman clearly hadn't been offered help in awhile. My help flustered her, but by the end, she gave me a bright smile and thanked me. I didn't even need to be thanked, the smile was enough.

Isn't it funny how the littlest things throw people completely off their track. Chances are, I will never see that woman again. I won't lend her a hand or wish her a good day for a second time. The moment we interacted was so fleeting. It only took me a matter of a minute to help her out, but her day was shifted because of my presence in it. At the time, I didn't even think about it, but as the day wore on, I began to wonder why people don't do these little things more often.

You know, why don't we help each other out?

Just yesterday, I helped a woman with a stroller through the doors at the mall. I was buying crackers and vitamins, in case you were wondering. She was probably heading in to start her holiday shopping. The automatic doors didn't work so I, in a rather awkward display, pushed the doors open for her. We exchanged a couple of words and then went on our ways. For just a blip in time, we connected. We came together and then we parted. People come in and out of our lives all the time, but so rarely do we strive to make the interaction positive.

The sad part is, we don't do the little things enough.

Is it fear? There seems to be this underlying theme to humanity that you can't help people because it makes you vulnerable to sickos, weirdos and axe murderers. Do we blame Silence of the Lambs for this? The girl gets tricked into helping Buffalo Bill move his couch into the back of his van because he has a broken wing. This is a fictional example, but people like Ted Bundy preyed on the generosity of others so he could take advantage of them. But these horror stories are far and few between.

This is going to come as a shock, but most people aren't going to murder you.

Some people say, "Yeah, but there's still a chance."

I don't live with that sort of fear. It's like when my mother gets a phone call and her first thought is that something terrible has happened to one of her kids or that someone has been in an accident. I can't live like that. It makes me feel as though I am being suffocated.

I'm not saying get in the back of someones van. Oh, God. No. Please don't get in the back of vans! Vans are dirty, scary places. Especially white cube vans. You know what I'm talking about. Every time I see one I think a girl is tied up in the back of it. That's my morbid imagination running rampant though. All I am saying is maybe offering a bit of kindness to the people we brush past on a day-to-day basis will do us more good than averting our gaze to the ground and hustling past. 

The funny bit about offering kindness, it comes in all shapes and forms. It can be as simple as a wall post, an email, a smile as you pass someone, a kind word or a compliment. It's holding a door, offering someone a tissue if they sneeze, and letting the bus driver know someone is running for the bus.

In fact, I had a bit of kindness on my chair when I got to work this morning. A friend of mine left me a note. It's a simple note, but it put a smile on my face and helped get my day off on the right foot.

And then I thought, what if we all left similar notes on the chairs of the world?

What an impact it might have!


Jamie said...

My wife and I were shopping just the last day and a lady was looking at a very small, dilapidated Christmas tree, in passing I mentioned to her the slightly larger one looked nicer. Later in a totally different section that same lady was walking past us again, she smiled and said "Thanks for the advice I got the bigger one!" It was a little thing, a small contact with a stranger, but it made me smile just the same. Keep up the good vibes T!

Jasmine Walt said...

I completely agree. Admittedly I don't go out of my way all the time, but if I see someone in need I always stop to help them out. It's the little things that can have the biggest impacts. :)

Anonymous said...

You never know, Tee, maybe one of the people you helped in those innocuous acts of kindness will one day kick the door open and save you from a slathering bunch zombies, pump action shotgun in hand. It could happen...