Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Acts of Kindness

Little known fact about me: random people find me approachable. It isn't abnormal for a complete stranger to spontaneously start a conversation with me, and in fact it happens quite often. Take last night for example:

I'm sitting at my fav lil' coffee shop studying, you know, resolving dominant 7th chords like every normal college freshman (I apologize in advance for references to music-related subjects like that), and taking notes for my super-rigorous Christian Heritage class I'm taking this semester. As I'm doing so, a man walks right up to my table, and out of the corner of my eye I notice him there. He doesn't say anything but I know he's looking at what I'm doing, so I glance up and we make eye contact. I say "hello", he says hi back and then walks off. Okay, that was a little strange, I'm thinking to myself, but then shrug it off and keep working. Around about ten minutes later, he walks up again, and just stands there peering down at me. I look up and say hello again and he asks my name. I kindly respond "Amy" and offer my hand to him to shake his and introduce myself. He told me his name and paused again before he asked if he could sit down, gesturing to the chair on the other side of the table I was at.

[sidenote: I'm not sure what, but there was something off with him. I knew he meant no harm, and most likely just wanted a companion...but to be honest, I wasn't feeling very sociable and really all I wanted to do was study in peace.]

So I thought to myself, well who am I to say no? Who am I to tell this man that he can't sit here with me. There was clearly an open chair across from me and I wasn't waiting for anyone to come join me, so there was no good reason to turn him down. I definitely wasn't about to turn him away, just for the sake of my comfortableness. So I said sure, and he proceeded to sit down. ... So he ends up sitting there, listening to his music player that he carries around with him, as I continue to read and study. He occasionally asks me a question, but nothing out of the ordinary. By this time I notice people staring and could tell others were feeling sorry for me...

To the point: I finished my studying, and 30 or so minutes later, got up, shook his hand and left. This situation just got me thinking about how many times a day we all criticise, ignore, mock, or shrug off someone just for our own pleasure or like this case, for our own comfortableness. But really, it's not hard to simply keep your first thought  to yourself, or to offer that stranger that no one wants to deal with a chair, or to stop a conversation that is happening that centers around degrading another person. I'm a firm believer in small acts of kindness. Yeah, to me, allowing this man to sit with me might have been a little uncomfortable, but to him, who knows, it could have turned a terrible day into a good one for him.

So I challenge anyone who is out there reading this, to add a random act of kindness into your day. You just never know whose life you'll touch.


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