Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Random Act of Kindness...and Shame

So the past few blog entries really have been rather me-centered. (Of course, who wouldn't want to read about me?)

But let me pause to share a random act of kindness I observed that really touched me. No humor involved.

Last week, I stopped off at a local Kroger on my way home from work to pick up a few things. While standing in the self-checkout line, there was this lady. She had two kids with her, the youngest probably about two. Anyhow, she only had a few items...but her card was rejected. Now, I have no idea why her card was rejected. Perhaps she was out of money. Perhaps there was some computer failure someplace. But whatever the reason, she told the cashier that she would have to put the food items back.

In the meantime, at the checkout adjacent to hers, a man finished paying, then went to pick up his change from the cashier. He finished, grabbed his bags, then rushed out the door in the same time it took for the woman to convince her two-year-old it was time to get back into the cart seat.

Then, the cashier took the food the lady had in her cart and put it into a bag.

"That man paid for these for you," she said.

"What? You're kidding!"

"Nope. He said not to tell you until he was gone."

It seemed such a small gesture, but one that had lasting impact on me. I often get caught up in thinking about the "big things" we can do to help people, I completely miss the small opportunities.

So, that night at the dinner table, I shared this event with my family.

But this is where my shame comes in. As much as this moment of kindness impacted me, I guess I am so quick to forget. It wasn't three days later, and I'm standing in line behind a lady in Sav-A-Lot to buy a single package of shredded cheese that I had forgotten in my previous Kroger trip. After her groceries were tallied, she started to tell the cashier to take off individual items until her total was under twenty dollars.

Do you think I would notice this? There I am, oblivious to the plight of this woman, when I had an opportunity to offer the same kindness I had praised just three days earlier. It wasn't until this woman was out the door and driving away that I fully realized what had happened. Then I felt ashamed.

I, apparently, am too busy and self-absorbed to offer to pay the extra five bucks this women needed to buy the rest of her food. I'm a Loser with a capital L. It certainly put me in my place.

So, a reminder to myself: Be on the look out for opportunities to perform Random Acts of Kindness...otherwise I might find myself experience a Random Act of Shame.

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