Yesterday I had the pleasure of completing 3 Random Acts of Kindness right in a row – the ultimate Triple Play! My first RAK was planned in advance, but the other two were 100% spontaneous “let me bless you because I can” moments. So much fun!
My planned RAK involved a coupon for a free car inspection my husband donated to my project a few months ago. (He bought a fundraising pack for my daughter’s chorus group and this was one of the perks included.) I decided to save the coupon for the month of December, when I knew money might be tight for some. The coupon itself was a little key ring tag (not a paper coupon) – I was lucky I never lost it because it was very tiny!
Knowing it could easily be overlooked, I decided to place it in a ziplock bag with a little note and my business card.
Thursday afternoon, I went driving up and down the parking lot at Kroger, desperately seeking a car that had an almost expired inspection sticker. I couldn’t find a single one! Wow! It’s the very first week of the month and every car I saw had a renewed or current sticker. Bummer!
On Friday, as I was leaving work, I scanned the parking lot on a whim. Bazinga! The very last car in my row needed to be inspected in December! Perfect! I placed my ziplock bag under their windshield wiper and said a silent prayer that the person I was blessing would see the gift before they turned their wipers on.
I then made my way to the local mall to pick up a few birthday gifts. The weather was a bit dreary: cold, wet, blah. I passed the holiday bell-ringer as I entered the mall and sheepishly apologized for not having any cash to place in his Salvation Army tin. (If you know me well, you know I rarely carry cash.) As I passed through the main doors, I saw a woman pushing a shopping cart filled with store-bought bags as an older woman stood beside her with fingers wrapped around the handle of an infant stroller. I immediately backed up and reopened the glass door so the ladies could pass through easily, but they pulled their cart to the side of the wall as the younger gal started to gather all her belongings and bags.
Have you ever stood there, holding the door for someone, only to realize you’re just standing there looking awkward because no one is walking through your door? Yeah, that was me. While I’m sure it was less than 20 seconds, it felt like an eternity. Suddenly it dawned on me: Why don’t I help the lady carry her bags to her car? It was obvious that she was struggling to carry everything in one trip (and to be honest, it kind’ve reminded me of when I bring groceries in the house, not wanting to return to the car for more bags.) As I walked towards her and offered to help, she politely refused at the exact same moment two of the bags fell from her hands.
We both shared a laugh at the irony (she obviously needed some help) and she agreed to let me bless her with kindness. As the older lady (her mom?) pushed the stroller, I carried two large bags while the lady carried the rest. (And as a sidebar, the baby in that stroller could NOT have been more than a month old… so tiny! So precious!)
I walked with them out of the mall, past the Salvation Army bell ringer, straight to their car. The lady thanked me profusely, but I just smiled and said, “Be blessed!” as I turned and walked away. No photos. No business card. Just one person being nice to another person. 🙂
As I approached the mall again for the second time, I smiled at the bell ringer (who had seen the events unfold, I’m sure) then continued with my tasks at hand. I bought the birthday gifts, did a little bit of window shopping, then decided it was time to head home. As I rounded the corner back to the mall entrance (which was conveniently located at the end of the food court), I couldn’t resist the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. “Garlic Knots – 5 for $1.99” I peered through the slanted glass display and was suddenly thrown back to my college days when we would call in late night deliveries to our dorm rooms for freshly baked “Crusties” from Chancey’s restaurant. Such great memories! I smiled as the cashier asked, “What can I get for you today?” and pointed to the bread. Thinking they would just grab a few pieces of bread from the display, I was shocked when she said, “It might be a minute, we are baking a fresh batch right now.” A fresh batch? Straight from the oven? YES! I would be MORE than happy to wait a minute or two!
I eagerly watched them pull the bread from their huge conventional oven, the same way you might pull out a pizza, and pack up my small package of Garlic Knots. (Did you know the wooden tool they use to pull pizzas out of the oven is called a “peel”? Yeah, me neither. I googled it, lol.) When the cashier handed me the styrofoam box, I could still feel the heat radiating from inside and the aroma was magnificent! What a treat indeed!
And then I froze in my tracks. Literally.
Because right in front of me, through the glass doors of the mall entrance, was… the bell ringer. Still ringing his bell, despite the cold, wet, dreary day. And in an instant I knew that this bread was not meant for me at all. I may not have had change in my pocket for his shiny red canister, but I had a container of freshly baked bread to share. So, of course, you know what I did. I walked right up to the bell ringer, apologized yet again for not having any change, then handed him the container of bread and said, “I hope this warms you up! Thanks for all you do.” Then I walked to my car, with a smile on my face, thankful for unplanned surprises. 🙂
I didn’t even think of taking a picture to document the moment until I was already in my car driving away, but I slowed down by his stand and snapped a photo over my shoulder (you might have to look really hard to see him through the rain spattered window):
So, my dear friends, the next time you are encountering a cold, wet, blah day, be encouraged! You just never know when you may have an unforeseen opportunity to bring a ray of sunshine into someone else’s life. 🙂