Sunday, February 13, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

As I told you in my earlier posts, Sunday tends  to always start on a good note at our house.   I get to sleep later that the 5:20 alarm, read the newspaper, and generally dink around until time to pull myself together and get to church.

I was thinking this morning, "Which of  my mental meanderings should I write about today?",  when I remembered something that Texas Pal was talking about on Friday during our walk. (for those of you just joining in, I live in Kansas City, walk every morning with someone in Dallas, TX while we talk on cell phones). 

Texas Pal, as you might remember is a surgical nurse.  She was telling me that in recent weeks, not one, but TWO employees within the Denton, TX area have donated kidneys to people needing them (badly, needing them).  What makes this interesting is that the only connection is that these people are people that came in to have medical care and the "donors-to-be had some work related interaction with them as a care givers.  No family connection or anything that would inspire this HUGE generous act.


While, I have been on the receiving end of really generous acts of kindness, I struggle to think of any huge acts on my part that would change anyone's life. Nothing come to mind in terms of MAJOR life changing gestures to strangers. More run of the mill things that most people do for one another such as letting someone cut in front of you in line, or giving away tickets to an event, or  passing along something no longer needed to someone in need.

I have had both good and bad experiences in my meager attempts at trying to do good.  (There certainly have been times that the adage "no good deed goes unpunished" feels more apropos.)
  For example:
 During my tenure in the employment biz, there was a time that men, who badly needed jobs, couldn't be hired in local factories because they needed steel toes boots. The problem was that boots are expensive and most guys out of work can't afford them so I decided that I could give men money to go buy a decent pair of work boots.  I could then get them  on as new-hires and when they got a little ahead, they could just pay me back the loan.

In very few cases, only 2 that I can recall, did the guys not show up at some point and pay me back.  (Those two quickly went AWOL from the job and took their free boots with them.)  In the big picture, I could care less.  Didn't care then, don't care now.  My point is that random acts of kindness are in themselves the reward.   You have to be prepared if you "out of the goodness of your heart" decide to do something  selfless, it may or may not be appreciated, acknowledged or even noticed.  (I suppose if you give someone one of your kidneys, that would be noticed.)

In 2002 a comedian, Danny Wallace, wrote a book Join Me, that inadvertently, started a movement which was later defined as a cult with its followers called the Karma Army.  The idea that resulted in the making of a book was an ad that Danny had placed in a small British newspaper. The ad was a short little ditty that pretty much said "Join Me".  The ad gave no explanation for what you were joining or why but it did ask the responder to send a passport picture. I mean really this was just silliness on the part of Danny, much the same as writing a blog and hoping to catch someones attention.

His first respondent's reply: 
 As requested, here is my passport photo.  I have also troubled myself to include a menu from our local Indian restaurant and can recommend the Chicken Dansak, if you are ever in the area and feel hungry.
(this respondent was to be called Jonesie) How nice of Jonesie to go beyond the instructions of just sending a picture.

After Jonesie's response other responses came in slowly and then more and more.  Of course at this point Danny needed to come up with a reason for the group to exist.  Now he had the people  who had "joined" but for what?

Ultimately, he came up with the idea  of people going out to do Random Acts of Kindness which caught on globally.  It also led to another book: Random Acts of Kindness: 365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place.
There was also, the Free Hugs Campaign which was documented in various cities, such as the one below.

As for acts of kindness bestowed upon me, there are many. Some so huge that the act sent my life in a whole different direction but because of time constraints. (not to mention the reader...yes, you L.M...that mentioned via email about me being wordy...but that is who I am)

I will tell you about one recent act of kindness that I was lucky enough to be a recipient of.  A gal pal and I went to a local restaurant here in KC.  During lunch, I started to choke.  I mean CHOKE!! No catching my breath, no coughing, just "I am now turning blue" kind of choking.  People started surrounding me.  I could hear some woman on her cell call 911 but was by that time I was light headed and not really paying attention to all that was happening around me.  A man came from behind me and started the Heimlich Maneuver to no avail.  He tried a second time, still nothing.  On his last time, he literally picked me up off the floor, bent me over his arm and hit me HARD on the back.  (the same maneuver one would use with an infant)  It worked. I was sitting on the floor recovering when the EMT's arrived.

A couple of things about this.  The man that did this is surely going to be rewarded at some point.  Hopefully, some karmic pay back is in store for him. 

And if he hadn't come to my defense,  I would have hated my obit to say, She died of aspirating a piece of broccoli at the Sweet Tomato Cafe, while horrified diners were losing their appetites around her.

I can think of several other examples in my life that special people changed the course of my life in very significant ways.  Unfortunately, there is no way to express to people how appreciative you are. Words fall short for those big "saves".

I am going to close for today.  Maybe in a future post, I can resurrect this subject and tell you a few more
stories of people acting very compassionate, generous and/or kind. 


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