About a week ago I was walking out of a shop downtown, carrying the lunch I’d just ordered back to the office. I was trying to carry way too much at one time — my purse, a plate of food, a piping hot cup of coffee — and sure enough, I tripped and almost dropped everything.
By some miracle, I managed to save the cup of coffee, but I ended up spilling some of it on the sidewalk and all over my arm. I stood there, feeling like an idiot, when suddenly I heard someone exclaim, “Are you OK?”
A woman had apparently seen my accident and had come running out of a shop downtown to see if I needed help. Although I told her I was fine, she proceeded to run back inside the store and brought me some napkins and helped me clean up my mess.
While I was embarrassed she’d witnessed my mishap, her simple act of kindness touched me. I’d never seen her before and will probably never see her again, but she took time out of her day to lend me a hand. Her thoughtfulness brought a smile to my face and absolutely made my day.
I think our world could use more “random acts of kindness” such as these. Oftentimes, we’re so busy (and I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else) that we don’t take time to notice people around us who may need a little help or a kind word. We focus on the negative — the long line at the grocery store, a messed up order at a restaurant — instead of ways we can do something positive. A random act of kindness doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate; it can be as simple as a smile, paying for someone’s cup of coffee, or saying “thank you.”
I’ve kept every single thank you letter people have sent to me as a reporter at the Kansan. Many times, it’s just a few lines written in a card to thank me for a story I’ve done, but those cards mean a lot to me. Sometimes, after a long and discouraging day, I pull those cards out and look back through them, and they lift my spirits. “Thank you” is a very powerful phrase!
America seems to be turning into more and more of a “me” focused society, but looking for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness is a way to break that trend. Do something nice for someone else, and I bet it will brighten not only their day, it will brighten your day, as well.
So, while I don’t know the name of the woman who helped me last week, I’d like to thank her for her kind spirit. I’m going to try to be more like her, and look for ways to “pay it forward.”
Ashley Bergner is a reporter at the Newton Kansan.