Oddly, I have been witness to two kind acts in the Wendy’s drive-through line. A few years ago, an elderly woman, so tiny you could not see her over the steering wheel, bypassed the line waiting and drove down the wrong way to the place where you pick up your food. This was a particular problem at this Wendy’s because the lane is only wide enough for one car and abuts to an embankment. The woman realized her mistake, but, obviously flustered, was having trouble backing up.
A man jumped out of his truck and ran over to her. He helped her out of the car, got in hers and backed it out to a place of safety. Then he walked back to her and helped her to her car. She moved slowly, but he acted as if he had all the time in the world. Even from a distance, I could tell he was concerned that she not feel foolish about what had happened.
Yesterday, a similar act happened. As I was waiting in my car, a family got out of theirs to go inside. The man was struggling to get his wiggling granddaughter in her jacket. His wife went on ahead. I looked away then saw a young man in a paint-covered jumpsuit dashing over to her. The woman was on a walker and couldn’t handle the step up to the sidewalk. And her husband was in no position to help. The young man offered his arm and walked with her all the way to the door of the restaurant.
Two things stood out for me:
- Yesterday was the third day of a bad, dispirited mood for me. It is close to midterms, and students are starting to feel the stress. Also, there has been some controversy on campus, and things have been said that, while unintentional, hurt. But that one kind act changed my mood. So the woman wasn’t the only person helped by that kind act.
- In both cases, the people who helped didn’t hesitate. They didn’t worry about whether they would be rebuffed. They just jumped right in. Being thanked also didn’t seem to be on their minds. Kindness was like an automatic reflex for them.
I’m reminded of the quotation by John Ruskin: “A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.”