Saturday, July 20, 2013

Perfect Strangers

The smallest act of caring can turn a life around.

Today is a lucky day.  Not because anything particularly lucky has happened to me but I feel lucky to have witnessed an explosion of kindness in strangers.

While waiting in line to buy my lunch at Whole Foods, an elderly Polish speaking man was having issues at the register next to mine.  His Link card (Illinois food stamps basically) had insufficient funds for what he was purchasing and the 2 women trying to explain the situation to him weren't having much luck.  This went on for a couple minutes until the gentleman ahead of me, turned to the man and in Polish explained to him what the situation was and how he needed to handle it.  While he was explaining this, the woman in line behind the elderly man paid his balance for him.  The man in front of me then turned around to apologize for holding up the line and I couldn't help but tell him how nice of a guy I thought he was for stepping in.  I gave my compliments to the woman who paid his balance too...full disclosure, that woman did get her money back shortly thereafter as once the elderly man understood what was going on, he whipped a pile of twenties out of his wallet and paid the balance himself.  Regardless, the thought was there.

I took my million dollar salad over to the park to enjoy before my lunch was over...As I was reading my book, I heard a woman speaking in Chinese or Japanese to a young boy who looked to be about 10.  He was throwing a Nerf football (poorly) back and forth with a middle aged white guy who looked to be fairly amused.  I watched them for a little bit and couldn't help but smile at this man trying to explain how to catch the football to this boy through his translator mother.  The man noticed me watching and with a grin said to me "This is the first time this kid has ever seen a football! Can you believe it?" The kid could throw the ball but couldn't for the life of him figure out how to catch it.  It was slow going and most people might have given up quickly.  But the two of them had giant smiles on their faces and it was fun to watch.  I couldn't tell you the first time I saw a football, much less threw one...I would guess most of us can't.  But in my head, that kid will remember throwing that silly little Nerf for the rest of his life.  And I'll remember the smile on his face.

Thank you, strangers, for reminding me that people can be good and nice.

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