Ever been on the receiving end of one?
Hopefully you have carried one out before.
Sure you have. Handed a car park ticket to the next person coming in because it still has an hour left to run? Held a door open for somebody? Helped somebody pick up all the money that has just fallen out of their purse all over the floor?
I was reminded today of on act of kindness that somebody paid me 12 years ago whilst listening to the radio earlier.
Whilst driving to Basingstoke today I happened to catch the end of “Supermarket Symphony” on Radio 4. I have no idea what the gist of the programme really was but a 74 year old chap was telling a story. A story that he couldn’t tell without crying. A man who has lived through wars so I thought “wow this is going to be a sad one”.
He explained that he worked in a shop for a number of years. It sounded like a farm shop with a deli counter. Normally he worked during the week but he happened to be working one Saturday last year to help out the owner. A customer asked “are you new?”. The chap explained that he was not but that he was helping out. The customer went on to ask for some dolcelatte as it was his favourite cheese. Our 74 year old chap remarked how it was also his favourite cheese too and they joked about how unusual that was.
The customer only wanted a small piece so asked for the block to be cut in half. This was duly done and the pair carried on chatting for a further five or so minutes.
As our man wrapped the cheese and handed it over the customer said “Oh I tell you want. I will take the other piece, too”.
And so off the customer went to pay for his two blocks of cheese.
Twenty minutes later he was back.
“Is something wrong?” asked our chap
“Not really” said the customer “but I have spoken to the manager about this”.
Our chap was worried by this, fearing he had over charged or mis-weighed the cheese.
“Here, I would like you to have this block” and with that he handed over the second block of cheese to our man. “I would like you to enjoy this as it is also your favourite and you probably don’t buy it very often”.
Our man was moved to tears by this because, no, he didnt buy it very often.
That simple act of kindness has stuck with our man for the past fourteen months since it happened.
And it reminded me of something similar that happened to me.
When 12 years ago I was broke. That may surprise you about me, but, yes, in a previous life I was broke for a while. Whilst buying nappies and baby food I got the date my child benefit was paid into my account wrong, and at the check out in Tesco my card was declined.
I tried hard to be brave and fight back the tears as I laughed it off and said I would have to leave it.
Immediately the chap behind me leaned forward and gave me a £20 note. He insisted I take it and refused to give me his name so I could pay him back. £18.47 it came to. He wouldn’t even take the change.
And like our man in the deli, I have never forgotten that gesture. A simple act of kindness that right then meant the world to me. And in fact, still does.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all did something kind everyday?