I would like to pay tribute to the many random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty that have been bestowed on me. The vast majority of these acts were done by strangers or by nodding acquaintances. Some day, I hope to be in a position where I can bestow random acts of kindness upon strangers, family, and friends. To all of you out there, named and unnamed, past, present, and future–thank you for all of your kind acts and good deeds towards me!
Broadening My Horizons
One of the first acts of kindness that I remember was the gift of a neighbor, known as Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe was a scientist and researcher. On my 12th birthday, he gave me a one year subscription to Smithsonian Magazine. He has no idea what that gift meant to me!
The Christmas Boots
When I was 19, I got my first decent job. Although I was always clean and neat for work, it was obvious that I was struggling. I made it to work every day, even in the winter, though I had no boots. One day, shortly before Christmas, my boss gave me a box. “Merry Christmas from all of us”, he said. Inside was a pair of very expensive fur-lined boots that he and my co-workers had pooled their money to buy for me!
Mrs. Kennedy, a total stranger, lived near me. One day, on the way to work, I dropped my wallet. She found my work number in it, and called me to let me know that she had found it and gave me her address so that I could stop by her house to get it. When I got the wallet, everything was intact. Even the ten dollars that I had was still in there! When I offered her the money for getting my wallet back to me, she refused, saying that it was the least that she could do. We chatted for a while, and when she found out that I was an avid reader, she even gave me a few mystery novels as gifts. I still have them to this day, many years later!
The kindly Optometrist
A few years ago, I broke my glasses, and went to an optometrist to have them fixed. After examining my eyes, and taking a look at the glasses, he informed me that he couldn’t help me, and referred me to an ophthalmologist. When I went to pay for the visit, he refused, saying that since he couldn’t help me, he didn’t feel that it was right to accept payment.
I had gone to the hospital, and had taken a cab home. The cab driver’s name was George, and he’d given me his pager number to call if I needed a cab again. Two days later, I called him because I was going to the dentist, and I needed to get there early. When we arrived at the dentist’s office, I got out my money to pay the fare. “Don’t worry,” he said, as he helped me into the building. “I’m not going to charge you for this.” “Give me a call when you need a cab again.”
The Kind Stranger
One day, after a winter snowstorm, I was going to a friend’s house. I was having trouble crossing the street, as it was difficult to push my wheelchair through the snow. A man parked his car, and ran over to help. He then offered me a ride to my destination, which I gratefully accepted. When we got to my friend’s house, he gave me ten dollars, and told me to take a cab home, instead of struggling through the snow. I was so grateful that I did indeed take a cab home, and though the fare was only about $3.50, I gave the cab driver the whole ten dollars.