The fact that my whole blog is about being thoughtful, National Random Act of Kindness Day on Wednesday, February 17th is, in my mind, the burnt sugar on the creme brûlée. Or if you're local, the black sea salt on the maple panna cotta found at Mill Valley Kitchen.
Many of my acts of kindness are not usually random. If I were to give a percentage, I’d say 93% are not random. In fact, my acts of kindness are a little too planned out - I am the gal who buys half-off holiday items for next year’s pinches. However, I try to be thoughtful everyday and I would hope that I offer random acts of kindness wherever I go. Like moving my yoga mat over a couple inches so the late mom who had a rough school drop off could sneak in and go straight into extended child pose. Or letting the person behind me at Target go in front because they have two items and I have eighty-five. Or when we want to leave the state fair but we have 5 ride tickets left (of course all the rides require 6 tickets) so we randomly pick one family out of hundreds who could use them. But alas, nothing brings out more acts of kindness than being around pregnant women. When I was pregnant with my first, I was the strong “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” type so when people would hold a door open for me or offer to unload my cart into my car, I often felt like it was a sign of weakness to accept. After my daughter was born and I no longer had the “bump”, I realized that the acts of kindness disappeared. Lesson learned. People genuinely wanted to help me and I should have willingly accepted because carrying around a baby in my belly was tougher than I wanted to admit. Since then, I try to offer help when I’m around pregnant women. Always.
My friend Allison sent me a thank you text for the gift card I gave her. She described how she planned to use the gift card to get some coffee at Starbucks but when it was time to use it, she was told that the person in front of her picked up the tab. So she used the gift card to pay for the person behind her. This was a double thank you text because I felt great knowing that my pinch was used to make a total stranger’s day. Ok, I know you’ve all heard stories of people doing this particular random act of kindness before but when Allison told me she was the ninth person in a row to pay for the person behind, it made me wonder, how many more Starbuck addicts kept the chain going after her that day?
A couple of years ago, my friend Ailana excitedly forwarded a news article about one of the Vikings players who, after hearing that a mom of two daughters suddenly passed away, paid for a shopping spree for them at Lululemon. What was remarkable to her was the complete arbitrariness of this football player, walking by a father and his daughters (who happen to be huge Vikings fans) at a local mall, came to find out that they had just lost their mother/wife so he reached out in a way he knew how to comfort them. When I told Ailana that I wasn’t surprised by this news because many of the football players do these wonderful, generous, kind acts, she asked me why their stories weren’t in the news more often.
Back to Starbucks. This international giant has a PR department that knows exactly what to do when they get wind of random acts of kindness happening in their stores. And I’m grateful because it plants the seeds so more people get ideas or copy ways to show thoughtfulness and kindness. I’m sure there has to be a record out there that documents the most coffees bought for the next person in line at a Starbucks. As for local pro athletes and their newsworthy acts of kindness, I can bet money that there are local news departments everywhere that would rather share their stories then the crap that’s happening around us. And even though the majority of us would rather hear about the goodness of mankind (not just athletes or famous people), it just doesn’t translate to TV ratings. This has always been a mystery in the media world. Nevertheless, I want to try something with my little blog. Whether it was something you did for someone or that someone did for you, I hope that you will share a random act of kindness with me this week. Please send me your story, I want to hear about it. I want to write about it. Random acts of kindness are like the burnt sugar on the creme brûlée, you just have to have it in order to fully enjoy the methodically, planned out acts of kindness. Bon appetit.