Fred and I with our grandsons
Hubby and I were out running errands and stopped in at one of the local taco spots across town. We noticed a man about our age sitting on the curb as we walked into the shop but didn't think much of it, it was an area of town where that sight was not unusual.
While sitting there, with the man sitting just outside our window, I watched people come and go. He sat quietly, observing his surroundings, not saying anything to anyone as they passed by.
He came into the shop and quietly asked if he could have a cup of water and the clerk graciously accommodated his request, after which he went back outside and sat back down on the curb again.
I turned to Fred and observed. The man outside is hungry. Fred handed me the money in his pocket and I went up to the register. I asked the clerk if the gentleman outside had been a customer earlier, she said no.
After asking if it was possible he might need a meal, the clerk ran outside to check with the gentleman and came back to confirm that he was indeed hungry. I proceeded to purchase him the largest burrito they had on the menu. The poor clerk's eyes grew large.
She asked, "You are buying him food?"
"Yes," I replied. "He's hungry."
She added a large drink, on the house, to the burrito. After paying for the food, I asked her if she would mind taking the food out to him when it was ready, as I didn't want to embarrass him.
When we looked up, the clerk was walking out the door with a large bag that appeared to be half filled with items, along with a large drink, which she gave to the man. He jumped up from the curb, to come inside to thank us for our generosity.
We visited for a moment, discovering that he was indeed homeless and living on the streets, surviving on fish that he could catch from the river. He was down on his luck, but still cared for his self-esteem.
He was well-spoken and we enjoyed the short visit with him as we sat there in our gardening clothes, covered with dirt, unlike his clean but worn clothing, neatly trimmed beard, and tidy appearance.
Just as we were leaving, the store manager came up to thank us for our thoughtfulness. Fred and I looked at each other, puzzled. The store had put three to four times the amount of food and drink into the meal for the gentleman than we had. We had only purchased a large burrito.
Then it dawned on me, it wasn't about how much money that we had spent, it was the fact that we had stopped and acknowledged the simple human need of a fellow man. We had said, "You are hungry, here is food for your hunger."
In this area of town, so many people are invisible. We had told this man he was not invisible. He was of importance. He had a basic need that we could meet, today. In turn, it opened a door and gave others the courage to do the same.
This evening, after having a medical procedure yesterday and maybe overdoing things a bit this morning, I suggested we go out for dinner this evening. Fred had been working out in the yard most of the afternoon and wasn’t in the mood to cook either, so he was all smiles at being relieved of kitchen duty.
Our favorite diner just recently (last week) opened a new shop over the hill and around the bend from us, so we cleaned up and hurried to beat the after work crowd.
As we were getting out of our car, I noticed a gentleman walking down the parking lot behind us. As I was watching, he reached into his pocket and appeared to pull out a wallet or fold of bills. Before I realized what was happening, he held the fold of what appeared to be money above his head and started to jog and flick the bills along behind him.
I stared at him and then at the bills. I yelled out that he was dropping his money. He needed to stop. But after he tossed the last of it, he took off running.
Fred and I looked at each other and Fred went to the farthest bill one way and I went the other way to gather it. I picked up a bill thinking it might be an advertisement printed on money-type paper – but it wasn’t. It was a five dollar bill. The next bill I picked up was a ten. Fred chased after him for a minute, but couldn’t see where he had disappeared around the corner of the building.
He brought what he had collected back to me and we put it all together as we walked into the restaurant.
After sitting down, we took it out and counted it, twenty-seven dollars. It was just enough money to pay for dinner.
I looked at Fred and said, “This is a lot more than that burrito cost us.”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Before he started throwing the money, the man looked around like he was making sure there was no one else in the parking lot. It had to be a random act of kindness. We’ve been got! WOW!!”
We are used to the joy of giving, but the joy of the total surprise of a gift from a stranger to shy to share any other way. He had no way of knowing how he made our day, or the way that very small kindness we had shared a few days prior was rewarded by his generosity.
But maybe I need go back even further. Many years ago when I was but in third grade and having a nickel for a special treat, especially on a hot Texas Sunday evening, was as rare as a snow storm in July.
My daddy preached a sermon on giving. He shared the story of the Widow’s Mite. Something about how far her penny went, and how her generosity was far more than that of the wealthiest merchant who gave much, but was truly very little of his great wealth. I remember putting that nickel in the offering plate as it went by and thinking that I had given all that I could give.
My sister gave me dirty looks because she knew that was for our special treat after church. But I heard what the story was about and it made an impression on that little eight-year-old girl.
After church, as we were walking down the sidewalk, back to our house, one of the visitors who was at church that evening stopped me. She reached inside her purse and took out a quarter and handed it to me.
“I saw you give your nickel in the offering plate tonight.” She said. “That was very generous of you. You have a very kind heart. I hope you keep that heart with you when you grow up.”
That small act of kindness has stayed with me. I do not know the lady’s name. But I do know she made a major difference in the life of a small child on how she looked at kindness to others and how important it is.
I don’t know who the gentleman was who was so kind and shy this evening. But his thoughtfulness, whatever the reason, was appreciated. May he know that he has found a fellow couple who are firm practitioners in the art of Acts of Random Kindness.
If you have received an Act of Random Kindness or would like to share a special Act of Random Kindness that you have been able to bless someone else with, stop by and post it here.
Bless us all with a smile and cheer our day. I hope this has cheered your day, too.
Karen and Fred