I don’t know if you knew this or not, but:
I’ve always thought that Random Acts of Kindness was a great concept, but I never really did anything intentional about it. Not that I’m unkind, I just didn’t do the anonymous RAK you usually think about when you hear the phrase.
As I’ve shared previously, our company is in the final throes of death. We have however, been doing what we can to keep morale up among those of us that are left. I have been on our Activities Committee since I started there almost 5 years ago. The AC plans fun things to do as a group, from simply providing lunch, to month long fund-raising and attending the March for Babies, to our annual office golf tournament. Our numbers have dwindled along with the number of employees. It’s pretty tough seeing so many of your coworkers saying good-bye and it’s easy to get lost in the despair of it all.
So a couple of months back, in a effort to help our folks get their minds off of their own situation and look to those around them and how they can help, we did a day of RAK. We utilized Boom Boom Cards for this. Boom Boom Cards are decks of cards that are available for purchase at their website. Each card give you a prompt of something to do for someone else as a RAK. I like how they put it… guerrilla goodness. Most people were excited by the idea and participated, some not so much, but you can’t make someone be nice I guess. Word even spread to other areas of the company in other parts of the state and I had people contacting me to find out more about what we did and how they could do it too. Being kind is contagious!
So after we had our day of kindness, I have tried to step up and do more RAK. It’s hard. It is so easy to get caught up in what you are doing that you miss those little opportunities to be kind. One of the cards suggests that the next time you are in line at the store and someone is short on change, give them what they need. I’ve been in that exact situation at least twice now and it wasn’t until it was over that I wanted to bop myself on the head V8 style for not paying attention to that chance to do something.
I do try to do two simple things that always give me a kick, and I assume the person who benefits from it. I LOVE to pay for the person’s meal/coffee/whatever who is behind me in line at the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Here’s my little tip about that though, because “How do you know how much that person bought?” We have 2 drive-thru lanes at our McDonald’s. If you take the outer lane, when you pull forward, you can listen to the person in the inner lane as they order. If you think it would be too much for you to cover, then do it another day, but since I when I do this is usually in the morning on the way to work, most folks are only ordering a sandwich and coffee. I enjoy seeing the looks on the cashiers’ faces when I tell them I want to pay for the person behind me. I think it makes their day as much as it does mine (and I assume the person behind me.)
The other thing that I did was purchase a bulk pack of those hand warmers at Wal-Mart. They were on sale, so for 10 or 12 of them, it was only $6. I put them in a zipper bag and I keep them in the back pocket of the front seat of my car. This way, when I am out and see a homeless or destitute person asking for help, I can hand them a pack of hand warmers and at least know that I’ve helped them out in just a little way without having to worry about money going towards drugs or alcohol. The first time I did this, I was super nervous. I usually see the same people in the same places every day, but of course once I bought the warmers, those people all disappeared. So finally one evening on my way home from work, I saw a younger man at a stop light with a sign asking for help. He had a big warm Carhart type coat and a hat and a beard. His age really struck me. It’s not like I didn’t know there were homeless people of all ages. My first real job was as a receptionist at City Union Mission. I met all ages of people there. But I guess being out of that for so long, I kind of forgot.
It was a really cold evening, in fact I think it snowed that night. As it worked out, I was at the head of the line for the red light. I pulled out a packet and heart pounding rolled down the window. I asked him if the warmers would be of any help to him. By his reaction, I don’t think many people were offering to help, and I don’t imagine that those that did were offering hand warmers. He was so sincere and real in his appreciation of those hand warmers. He asked me my name and I asked him his. It was Cameron. I told him I would be praying for him and the light changed and I drove on down the road with tears in my eyes.
I just did the same thing last Friday with a lady I see every Friday in the same place with the same sign. She’s been waiting on disability for at least 2 years. She even has her leg wrapped up in an ace bandage with her pant leg hitched up so you can see it. She also has a cane that she dramatically leans on every couple of minutes or so. We have several folks around town that are professional sign holders. I even heard of one that was making $45000 a year, actually lived in the suburbs, had a car, and yet every day, all he did was go to his corner with his sign and beg for help. I think these are the folks that give the ones that need help such a bad rap. But even so, they still need to be shown kindness. So even though the Disability Lady is a regular on my route home, it still felt good to hand her the packet of hand warmers. She too seemed surprised at what I was offering, but was genuine in her appreciation of them.
These are just two simple things that I’ve found that I can do to spread a little kindness. If you are interested in joining me, why don’t you head on over to the Boom Boom Cards Facebook page. It would appear that they are offering a suggestion each day of an easy way to get involved that doesn’t take a lot of money and just a little effort on your part.
Who do you know that needs some kindness? One of the thoughts I offered to my coworkers was that it is easy to show those who are kind to you the same kindness in return, but can you step beyond your own comfort and show kindness to that person who just rubs you the wrong way? Maybe what they need is to know that someone does care.
Do you practice RAK? If not, what’s holding you back? What ways have you found that you can show kindness to those not expecting it?