Random Act of Kindness: An Inspiring Story
Last week the term “random act of kindness” seemed to follow me where ever I went. On my couponing Facebook pages, people kept posting that they had received coupons in the mail from anonymous people (these are called RAOKs in the couponing world: Random Acts of Coupon Kindness). A mom in my “sing and sign” class told me a great story of how she had bundled up her little one and headed out to her local coffee shop for some caffeine relief only to realize she’d forgotten her wallet. Instead of sending her on her way, the cashier told her it was on the house. And the local radio station was promoting random acts of kindness, encouraging people to pay for the person’s coffee behind you in line or maybe plugging a parking meter that was nearly out of time.
Just being reminded of how important random acts of kindness are in our community gave me the warm and fuzzies and I began to become more aware of how I could also pay it forward. Being more aware, I managed to perform one RAOK last week. At the grocery store, I saw someone buying an item that I had a coupon for and so I gave it to them, making one of their items free. But nothing I heard or did last week prepared be for the random act of kindness I accidentally witnessed on the weekend.
I had to drop by the office downtown to pick something up and as I drove into the small underground parkade , I noticed a bare chested man in the very back of the parkade. He was behaving very erratically, spinning in circles and flailing his arms. My first instinct was to just let him be because I felt intimidated by the situation.
I parked on the other end of the parkade and went into the building to pick up what I needed. About fifteen minutes later I walked back to my car and noticed that the man was now sitting on a step in front of a door to another building near some recycling bins. He was still shaking and talking to himself and was still without a shirt. At that moment I was concerned for him as it was early in the morning in November and the coldest morning we’d had so far this winter. But I humbly admit I was still nervous and fearful about approaching him to see if he was okay and so I opened my car door and got in. Luckily for this man, there suddenly appeared an unlikely person whose humanity outweighed their own fears.
A small, elderly lady, probably seventy five years-old or so walked out of the door where the man was sitting carrying her blue recycling box. She noticed the man on the steps and didn’t even hesitate approaching him to see if he was okay. He was still shaking and I could tell she was having trouble understanding what he was saying but she continued to talk to him. She must have noticed he wasn’t wearing a shirt and that he’d removed all of his other clothing except his jeans (I was about thirty feet away so this is something I hadn’t seen.)
Carefully, she walked around the man, picking up his shirt, sweater, jacket, socks, and shoes and began to help dress him like a mom would dress her young son. It took her a while as the man was having trouble staying still but after a few minutes, she managed to get him completely dressed. Suddenly he stood up and moved toward her and I was afraid for this woman as he still didn’t seem very stable. The elderly woman began to back away , maybe questioning if she’d done the right thing.
But before I could even open my car door to intercede, the man wrapped his shaky arms around this woman to give her the biggest hug, obviously touched by her amazing and unexpected kindness towards him.
After the hug, she talked with him a few more minutes and went inside. The man seemed to have calmed down dramatically since their encounter and he slowly walked out of the parkade.
This unique random act of kindness touched me deeply and humbled me greatly. I was too afraid to approach this man because he was acting erratic but this lovely woman who was half my size, recognized instantly that he was simply a person in need of some kindness.
It’s one of those situations I will never forget and never want to as it re-taught me that we are all human and someone’s child. I hope by telling this story, I’m paying this woman’s kindness forward and reminding us all how a little kindness and humanity can go such a long way.