Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Kindness

I stayed up past my bedtime last night, something I tend to do on Friday because I know that I can sleep late on Saturday. When I tumbled into bed around 1:30, I set my alarm for 8:30.

Apparently Bob the cat thought I'd forgotten to set the alarm because at precisely 6:15, the time my alarm usually goes off, he howled--one single, short howl. Not loud enough to scare me, just enough to wake me. He waited a few seconds and then leaned over and licked my nose.

The boy has learned from ugly experience that going straight to licking my nose creates a geyser of woman, sheets and noise, something to do with that caress of sandpaper between my eyes. So now he gives me a warning howl.

As I dragged myself out of bed, I thanked him for his kindness, which brings me to this post.

It's been fifteen years since the book Random Kindness & Senseless Acts of Beauty was published.

I think kindness is highly underrated.

The first act of kindness (outside of my own family) I can remember recognizing as such happened when I was about seven years old. Money was an issue in my household, and when my mother went grocery shopping, it was always with an eye to the amount of cash in her wallet. One of my early jobs was returning grocery items to the shelves when she started adding up the tab in her head as she put everything on the conveyor belt. I HATED the job and obeyed with a sullen attitude. (On the plus side--to save myself mortification--by the time I was nine, I could estimate the cost of a grocery cart full of items BEFORE we got to the checkout line. To this day, I can come within $.25 of the total when guesstimating the price of my groceries).

This particular day, I was already holding two other items to be returned when Mom handed me a bag of Oreos to take back.

I was old enough to understand the necessity, but my four-year-old brother wasn't having any. He pitched a fit as only he could do, screaming and banging his fists on the nearest surfaces. All three of us were redheads, and the sight of his angry red face under his orange hair and a bazillion freckles was pretty impressive.

Mom--who never appeared embarrassed by asking me to return items--WAS embarrassed by my brother's behavior. She leaned over and hissed, "If you want to cry, I'll give you something to really cry about."

All of a sudden, the elderly man behind us laid a $5 bill in front of my mother and said, "Allow me."

He refused to listen to her protestations and shook his head when she tried to hand it back.

Of course, that $5 was probably the equivalent of handing a $20 bill to someone today.

Mom finally accepted the money--the cashier was glaring at her to hurry up--and thanked the man for his kindness.

That act still resonates with me today.

I try very hard to be kind in my daily life and like to think I succeed more often than not--although occasionally my temper flares, putting kindness on the back burner. I blame my genes: Italian father and red-headed mother.

I also try to surround myself with kind people. I truly believe mean-spirited folk take years off your life.

I find kind men very, very sexy.

Be kind today.

1 comment:

spyscribbler said...

Amen to that. Great, lovely post.