When Did Kindness Become Unusual?

I don’t blog a lot. In fact I gave it up for a while, but my experience this morning warrants sharing. I ran out to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute things before going to Mom’s for an early Thanksgiving lunch with my family. At such an early hour, the store had one cashier working the front of the store. I’ve encountered this woman many times before while grocery shopping, and well, she wasn’t hired for her out-going personality. I recognize this as part of who she is and not an effort to be rude because I have encountered many people like her in my lifetime.

I tell you all of this to set up my story. When I got to the check-out line, Miss Check-out Lady was at lane five filling some helium balloons. There was an older gentleman purchasing said balloons and an African American couple in line behind him. I proceeded to get in line behind them. Miss Check-out Lady tied off the ballons, looked up at the four of us and with what could be construed as a myriad of different emotions – none of them good – said, “Four, ” indicating that she was working on lane four and not lane five. As I was at the back of the line, I reached lane four first; the older gentlman walked around the front of the check-out lanes to regain his “I’m getting out of here first position”, and the African American couple proceeded to get in line behind me.

I didn’t have to think about this situation. I instinctually knew that the kind and the right thing to do was to let the couple go in front of me. They had been there ahead of me; why wouldn’t we regain the lane order we had been in previously? As this couple checked out, Miss Check-out Lady asked if they had one of the store’s frequent customer cards. They did not, so I offered to let them use mine. Again, why not? It was in my hand, ready to use, so it just made sense to use it. At that point, the young man – and by young I mean 30-ish, looked at me and said, “Thank you, you have been kind to me all around today.” His words really resonated with me. I share this story with you not to say I did something nice today, but to ask, why was it so surprising? Why is this not the norm?

Perhaps we as human beings need to set all of our differences aside and remember to treat everyone we meet with kindness and respect. And if that isn’t a ceaseless habit in your life, simply remind yourself to treat others they way you want to be treated.


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