My wife was shopping in Tesco. There was usual daytime traffic at the tills, so people were waiting with hair-trigger patience to get scanned through and out. My wife was in line just behind an elderly man who had a tiny gathering of basic items in his basket. He was frail and slightly dishevelled looking, with shopping that amounted to the absolute basics, with a few necessary extras like oven cleaner, rubber gloves and a tin of dog meat. The man had clearly opted for a treat as well, as there was also a four pack of bitter and a bottle of wine.
The cashier was a bit stressed, having had a jar of pickles smash on the floor and the looming pressure of customers to get through as quickly as possible. The old man’s shopping all went through and the cashier announced the total amount. There was a look of concern from the man, who started digging through his pockets for his money. As he searched, pulling out a couple of vitamin bottles in the process, the man told the cashier that he might not have enough money. Coins rolled, and the two set about counting up what the man had with him – which amounted to several pounds less than the final bill. His treat, it seemed, had been a little beyond his means and he was faced with having to put something back to be able to match his shopping bill.
My wife then piped up, having watched and listened to everything going on, and asked how much the man was short of his total. The cashier answered, to which my wife replied that it was OK, she’d cover the £7 or so that the man was short. Both the elderly man and the cashier seemed somewhat surprised by the offer. The bill was settled and the old man thanked my wife for her generosity, citing that she must be quite rich to be able to do such a thing. She replied that she was nothing of the sort – she just wanted to help out someone in need. After a brief conversation, the man left – and the cashier finished off scanning my wife’s shopping. He told her he was surprised by her generosity, and my wife simply said she believed that one good turn deserves another – if you are good to others, maybe they’ll pass that positive attitude on to someone else.
The cashier took payment for the shopping and asked my wife whether her local school collected ‘Computers for Schools’ vouchers. She answered, ‘Yes’ – and the cashier handed over a booklet full of vouchers, far outstripping the amount my wife had spent on shopping (but, given that Tesco made £1.6 billion in profits in the last year, they can probably afford to donate a few token to a good cause!).
Random acts of kindness are that simple. There isn’t any need to think the only way you can help is to donate millions to charity or go out into warzones of the world to help the sick and the dying. Being kind and helpful to those around you is quite enough. In a day and age when people begrudge holding doors open and blast their car horns if you pause for more than a nano-second after traffic lights have turned green – a simple random act of kindness can seem like a miracle from the heavens, because most people just don’t expect it. People have come to expect negativity, violence and selfishness – so random acts of kindness seem all the more amazing.
Go out and do something good for someone else. If we all do one good turn for someone else, and they then gvet the attitude boost to do the same – kindness might just spread like the epidemic the Human Race seems to need at the moment!
[Reposted from 2004, due to popular demand!]