Monday, June 4, 2012

monday mission :: spread kindness


This weeks mission is to spread kindness. 


But, I have a different take on it. Instead of premeditating a kind act (like paying parking meters or leaving muffins on a neighbor's doorstep), let's go all guerrilla kindness!


Go about your regularly schedule life but turn off the constant inner monologue. Try your very hardest to  keep yourself open all week. 


By getting out of your own head when you are in public places, you will be able to REALLY see others, connect to their humanity and feel what they might need. 


I thought of this idea the other week and was treated to an amazing experience the very next day (an experience that I almost missed because of my own self involvement).


My family and I were headed out of town for an impromptu museum and adventure day. My husband pulled up in front of the library so I could run in and quickly grab a book on tape for the hour and half ride. As soon as I entered the library and scanned the new books, an elderly man approached. 


"Do you know the computer?" he asked me in a heavily accented voice as he held out a receipt with a website and some numbers scrawled on it. "Uh, yeah" I replied a little confused, "you need to go over there to the computer lab."


I walked him over, only to find out that he already had a computer and was stuck on filling out his application to Wendy's. My heart dropped. My kids were outside so excited to get on the road, this looked complicated, and why was this old man applying to work at Wendy's? 


One real look into his pleading, watery blue eyes, made me sit down. We got started and when I realized that this was going to be complicated, I told my waiting family to come in, I would be awhile. By being open, I could feel something flowing in me, just beneath the surface. It whispered, "Be here with him. Help him."


While I helped him fill out his application, I learned that this 76 year old Italian immigrant had worked as a chef in New York and Hawaii for the last 40 years. I realized that he must have remembered living under Mussolini and spent WW2 in Italy. I knew he had lived a big life just as a consequence of his longevity and surely had some amazing stories to share.  He was now in Florida with family and given the current economy needed to find a job. 


My heart broke. He was so energetic, optimistic and willing to work every day for 12 hours, if he needed to. But he was also sort of helpless. He willingly handed me his driver's license, social security card, phone numbers and address. No one else in the computer lab would help him. So he found me when he was wandering around the lobby seeking assistance.


Confused at why he could not apply for a job in person, we found the internet application to be weird and insulting. 


He was asked insipid questions like, "if there is a cup on the floor, will you pick it up, or call a manager over to get it?" He could not understand why they would ask questions like that. Because that is how far some of us have fallen, I wanted to say. We can utilize a computer to apply for a job, but lack the common sense to pick up a cup. We laughed at alot of the questions and I gave him the number to a local Italian owner restaurant, thinking he might have better luck there. 


The whole encounter did not take much longer than 30 minutes and when I refused money for helping him, he shook my hand and wished for many blessings to befall my family. A blessing which I must say, I am still benefitting from. 


So, this week look for opportunities to serve others. If someone approaches you, relax. Do not immediately try to angle to get away. Stop trying to protect yourself and your attention. See what blessing might come your way.


Oh, and for a bit of irony. This man shared the same same name of the artist we were in such a big hurry to see.


If you have a story and encounter this week, I would love it if you shared it here. 



14 comments:

  1. That is a great act of kindness. I am struck by how little it takes to make a difference. My children (my daughter especially) will wave and say hello to most everyone. I am always struck at how this leaves people with big smiles and often can hear them talking about it later.

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  2. I once read that acts of kindness are not selfless because we wind up helping ourselves as much as we help the other person. True, isn't it? You did a kind act and benefited from it, too. Kindness truly is contagious! You make me want to find someone to help today!

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  3. Oh, that sweet old man! So glad you were able to help him! A very touching story.

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  4. This was a beautiful story you have shared. Your thirty minutes of time was so valuable to the man who needed your help so fully. You may have helped in get the job he must have needed. And, if not, you spent a valuable time reassuring him that there are still people left who do care about it. You have set a beautiful example for your children too. You are a treasure, Mama Scouts.

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  5. what a heart warming tale - thanks for sharing - and you're so right. xx

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  6. I love this gentle (and important) reminder and the personal example that brings home the importance of these types of acts.

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  7. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this moment. Oh, if we could just all treat each other in this way all the time!

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  8. What an awesome story! Thank you so much for the beautiful inspiration!

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  9. I am so glad I waiting all day to read this post. I just knew it would be wonderful, and it was! Bless you & your new Italian friend. I wish I could tell you to send him my way, my family has a wonderful pizzeria in South Carolina he would be welcome in anytime. We had a similar experience today, I took my kids to the local children's museum and it worked out we did not plan for lunch. We ended up stopping in a small deli and I ordered a 10 inch pizza for my 3 children to split for a song. Of course, they hardly ate a bit of this huge pizza but when we were done , I knew exactly what we would do with the extra slices. I had the kids ask for a few to go boxes and we handed out slices to folks down on their luck on our way back to the parking garage. There are always so many wandering souls downtown and my heart goes out to each and every one. We had a long discussion (the kids & I ) about what we were doing & why we were doing it. My 6 year old wanted to bring back all of his piggy bank to give to these people ... he also wanted me to get each of them a room in a nearby hotel we once stayed in. This opened the door for such a powerful moment for us. He asked me if he could paint pictures this summer & sell them for cash to give his new friends ... I think I have no choice but to oblige him :) love his old soul.

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  10. I am so glad I waiting all day to read this post. I just knew it would be wonderful, and it was! Bless you & your new Italian friend. I wish I could tell you to send him my way, my family has a wonderful pizzeria in South Carolina he would be welcome in anytime. We had a similar experience today, I took my kids to the local children's museum and it worked out we did not plan for lunch. We ended up stopping in a small deli and I ordered a 10 inch pizza for my 3 children to split for a song. Of course, they hardly ate a bit of this huge pizza but when we were done , I knew exactly what we would do with the extra slices. I had the kids ask for a few to go boxes and we handed out slices to folks down on their luck on our way back to the parking garage. There are always so many wandering souls downtown and my heart goes out to each and every one. We had a long discussion (the kids & I ) about what we were doing & why we were doing it. My 6 year old wanted to bring back all of his piggy bank to give to these people ... he also wanted me to get each of them a room in a nearby hotel we once stayed in. This opened the door for such a powerful moment for us. He asked me if he could paint pictures this summer & sell them for cash to give his new friends ... I think I have no choice but to oblige him :) love his old soul.

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  11. Great advice -- I need to get out of my own head to really see before me.

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  12. What a great story! I hope that I would have taken the time to help him. Great example for your kids, too.

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  13. Wow. I'm speechless. Beautiful, inspiring post. I am definitely taking on this challenge too. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. So many people today just assume that someone else will help or that it isn't their problem. I always seem to be the person that finds lost children wondering around. It makes me sad when I see other people watch the kids crying or distressed but don't do anything about it. I know that I would want a kind person to be there for my child if he was ever to get lost. Thanks for sharing this lovely situation.

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