Thursday, January 28, 2021

Random Acts of Kindness... You Never Know Who Needs One

If I had only been thirty seconds faster I would have beat that white BMW to the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru window. This was taking forever, like a full five minutes. What was she ordering, anyway? I wasn't necessarily in a hurry, but was completely starved, feeling like in another minute I could take a bite out of the steering wheel. 

When I finally pulled up to the window, I tried handing the drive-thru attendant my five dollar bill as I grabbed my order with my free hand. The smell of the sugary coffee wafted into my car on this cold, windy day. 

"Oh, the lady in front of you paid for your order," the attendant said, refusing my money. 

"She did?" I said, stunned at the thoughtfulness of a complete stranger. "Paying it forward, eh? I guess I'll get the tab of the person behind me." Just then I glanced over at the bright red digital numbers next to the open window. $16.85? Mine was going to be less than $3.00. I considered changing my mind, then thought better of it and rustled through my wallet for a twenty dollar bill.

The light at the intersection was red and I had my egg and cheese wrap almost devoured when a car pulled up in the lane next to me. I was fiddling with the radio, trying to resume playing the audio book I had been listening to, when out of the corner of my eye I saw the driver to my right waving her arms. When I looked at her, I noticed she looked haggard and exhausted as she rolled down her window to talk to me. I rolled mine down as well, wondering what she could possibly want to talk about at an intersection.

"You are such a wonderful human being. It just means so much to me that you paid for my Dunkin' Donuts order. My dad is having surgery and I am taking this order back to my family as we wait for the outcome." You could see the stress on the woman's face, the fear of the unknown, the doubt, and then the gratitude from such an unexpected gift. "Thank you again, you are such a wonderful and kind person, this really means so much, especially on this day." She let out a sob and blotted her face with a white napkin.

Feeling a little embarrassed, I felt my face reddening and gave the lady a thumbs up. "The person in front of me paid for mine, so I thought I'd keep it going." Just as the light turned green, I had just enough time to say, "I hope your dad's surgery goes well." 

"Thank you again," she said, as tears streamed down her face.

I just couldn't believe that such a small gesture of kindness could effect someone else so profoundly. It just goes to show that you never know what someone else is going through. That measly $16 made this woman's day so much better, and in return it touched my soul, bringing so much joy both of us. I was so glad that I had a change of heart. The experience today made me remember how much power comes with one act of kindness. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could each pass some along to someone in need?