Monday, May 7, 2012

The Random Acts

I’ve been reading and seeing a lot about random acts of kindness lately. People in the drive-thru who pay for the order of the car behind them, anonymous donations—that sort of thing.

And though I always try to be kind, being randomly kind is well, more random. A spur of the moment kind of thing—not something I plan for, really, but decide on the spot.

I also love being on the receiving end of random acts of kindness. It restores my faith in humanity, which after watching the evening news, is often lacking. I’m often cynical about people and their motives, so it’s a nice bop on my head when a stranger does something nice for me.

Happily, I was on the receiving end of a random act of kindness while I was in D.C. I’d just landed and was going to take the subway to the hotel. When I entered the Metro station, I approached a fare machine and stared at it, trying to decipher how to actually buy a fare card (not as easy as it might seem).

As I was standing there, a husband and wife approached me and asked if I needed a fare card. I nodded, and the man handed me a fare ticket. He and his wife had bought weeklong passes and didn’t need them anymore since they were flying out—there was still two days left of fare on it. His wife handed her ticket to a woman next to me. A simple act, but one I really appreciated. 

And while I was in D.C, I called home to check on my family, and my daughter told me a story about something that had happened to her at school that day. She’s been working on a painting of one of son # 2’s track shoes (a bright green track shoe that has holes for spikes). The day before she’d left her painting in the hallway on a rack to dry, and as she approached her classroom that day, she noticed something on top of her picture.

At first, she thought it was litter and was irritated, but as she got closer, she realized it wasn’t trash—it was treasure.

Someone left this note on her painting:

Notice that someone added to it? (It's hard to see but the bottom part says "Agreed!! -another person")

And then someone else left this:

"I also don't know you, however indeed I agree that you're shoe is great. -BilboBaggins"

My daughter was over the moon. Over. The. Moon. The fact that these notes were probably left by teenagers makes me ridiculously happy—random acts aren’t just for an older population. And I cracked up about the BilboBaggins, too. Gotta love teenagers (bad grammar and all).

It's time for Baby Girl and me to pay these acts forward, because you just never know when a fare ticket -- or a note of praise -- can make someone’s day so much brighter. 

PS: I'll post a picture of the shoe as soon as I can. The school keeps it for the big art show at the end of the year, but seeing as though there are only 17 days left of school (not that Baby Girl is counting), it shouldn't be too long. Stay tuned... 


  1. I hope this doesn't make you feel less special but rather adds to your feelings of happiness at these random acts of kindness but I see fare card "gifts" all the time. Usually they are from visitors to the Nation's Capitol (us natives have credit card-like reloadable cards) who have found that they've bought too much card and want to help another visitor.

    It's one of the best parts of living here is seeing the wonder and unexpected joy of being gifted a fare card. If you had not been gifted, one of the natives would have assisted you. I've done it every time I've ridden (admittedly not that much) because those machines ARE complicated as heck.

    People who ride subways are some of the nicest, most helpful people in the world. Instead of being annoyed with all the tourist who can't figure out the system, they sweep along the newcomers and bring them into the family. I've seen it happen here, in NYC and Chicago. Something about the train seems to make people nicer. :)

  2. Heather, I totally feel this post tonight. I, too, find myself having very little faith in humanity after seeing the news or reading the headlines. But every now and then, something does comes along and restores my faith that they are SOME good people left. I especially love your daughter's encounter. As a parent of a son who was bullied so badly I chose to remove him and homeschool, I love hearing that there are still kids out there that would like to build up eachother and not tear one another down. Such a small thing they did that day, but something that not only encouraged your girl but also maybe boosted her confidence. Those are acts that will ultimately lead to her becoming an even better artist, I am sure. I'm going to attach a link to something a group of highschoolers just did in the town I grew up in. It warmed my heart the same way your stories did-- to see kids of every walk putting their guards down and participating as one body. And your Metro station couple are def my kind of people. :) I love doing things like that, but am always amazed that people (nine times out of ten) will look at me like I'm nuts. Just goes to show we can never have enough "random acts of kindness" these days. Here's to keeping the ball rolling in that direction, though...

  3. I love the unexpected and simple things that people do without thought of a return gift.

  4. Truly awesome! Thanks for sharing the stories.

  5. How wonderful! We've been on the receiving end of help in the subways and a free fare ticket is really cool!

    However, having been a teacher, you know, your daughter's experience just made my eyes well up! Too often what would happen is that Baby Girl would return to see her art damaged. That these young people not only left the piece untouched, but left those wonderful wow wow!

  6. It does make you think about what you are doing. Loved the stories and thank you for the smile with my coffee.

  7. Nope, doesn't make me feel less special, Aimee! I was just so happy to be a recipient. Back when Malice was at Crystal City, the concierge desk had a bowl for leftover fare cards to give to the homeless. Loved that, too. I grew up on the subways of Boston and don't know when fare stations got so complicated. LOL! Next time I'm in DC, you need to give me a lesson.

    Kristine, I'm sorry to hear about your son. I don't understand how people can be so cruel sometimes. :( Every time I try to watch the video, my flash crashes, but I'm going to keep trying!

    Dru Ann, me too.

    Thanks, Juanita!

    Sara, it was very affirming to her on a lot of levels. It does a heart good.

    You're very welcome, Mare. Love sharing the good stuff. :)

  8. I love the You Tube video that Kristine posted. It celebrates the diversity fo the entire student body--not just the popular kids. As someone who has worked in education for nearly 30 years, it's gratifying to see the inclusion of everyone rather than exclusion.

  9. Those notes left on your daughter's painting for such a sweet treasure. What an awesome thing for a classmate to do!

    When I read your post on Monday I couldn't think of a random act of kindness that I've given or received lately. Lots of kindness, for sure, but nothing random...until Tuesday of this week. In the back of my van I found two bags. One, was a reusable shopping bag full of food items - soup, pasta and sauce, etc. The second was a plastic shopping bag with goldfish crackers, Bath and Body Works hand soap, shower gel, and other personal care items. On the bag was written "For Your Family :) ) What?! When I asked my hubby if he knew anything, he said they were on his desk on day at work. He was working from home so much following my injury and surgery and then on one of the random days he went into the office they were just sitting on his desk. The bags had been in his car all this time and he forgot about them. He quickly shoved them into our van when he needed to get them out of his trunk to make room for something else. I am so touched that one of his coworkers (multiple coworkers working together?) would do this for us. Of course, I want to know who did it, but likely won't ever know. I am so blessed by this sweet kindness. This week I've had some more issues with swelling, so to find this sweet surprise is really encouraging.