Simple Gifts ~ Acts of Kindness #30

So here we are in September.

I want to salute the many unsung heros who have made such a difference to the lives of those around them with simple acts of kindness.


WP46 050918
photo: courtney hedger


… to the bus driver who waited till the elderly man with a cane was seated before moving off; actually, she waited for all her passengers to be seated. I’ve encountered too many drivers who moved off before folks made it past the ticket machine;

… to the volunteer pianist at the hospital lobby who played for an extra 15 minutes just because people enjoyed the music;

… to my library colleague who brought extra rolls to share because it was raining, and she thought we would have something to eat if we didn’t want to walk out for lunch;

… to the lady in the lunch queue behind me who gave her order before I did, and who kept apologising afterward. Such graciousness is increasingly rare;

… to Eilene for sharing this story on my blog. I do apologise for not acknowledging this earlier. Kudos to everyone for restoring some faith in humanity and kindness.

I have a kindness story for you from my husband. He phoned in a pizza order (take and bake), but when he went to pick it up, realized he didn’t have his wallet. It would be almost an hour round trip to go home and get it, so he wanted to let the pizza people know he’d be a while. Then a woman in line said she’d pay for his pizza and did! He mailed her a $20 and a thank you card.

Please join Eilene at her impeccably written posts at

… to the wonderful people who opened doors for someone else, pressed lift door-open buttons so everyone could enter, stood aside so someone could go first, picked up dropped items for someone else, returned a document forgotten on a photocopier …

… to everyone who said ‘thank you’ when something good was done for them.

Simple acts of kindness are simple gifts that truly matter.




As we head into a new school year, as the seasons change, and as life marches onwards, whether or not we chose the paths we’re on, here’s something that has brought me comfort:


I wish I knew who said it; whoever you are, thank you for your wisdom.

Have a wonderful September!





In an attempt to promote phone-free dining and arrest the decline of real conversation, McDonald’s erected these mini-lockers. The intention was for diners to safely store their phones while they ate and conversed with the people they were actually dining with.

Look closely and you will notice the absence of phones, save two.

The lockers themselves were absent from that outlet several weeks later.




Today, as I shifted some furniture around, a tiny millet seed rolled out. And I wanted to cry because it brought back memories of the family baby – Snowball the Hamster, who died almost to this day last August.

Snowball came to us as our friend couldn’t stand the thought of him being lonely after his siblings had been adopted. We’d had no plans for a pet, much less a high maintenance attention seeker like Snowball.

If we had our meals, he wanted his treats.

If we returned from an outing, he’d be at his little house staring pointedly at us felons for daring to abandon him for two hours.

If we cleaned his cage, he’d scurry to his spot behind the sidetable to have a munchfest on whatever seeds he had in his cheekpouches. When we were done, we had to wait till he was. The three inch King of the House would sashay out and clamber back into his Castle.

Obviously, the little seed had been lodged somewhere, unnoticed for almost exactly a year. Or Snowball was reminding us of his presence.

I miss the little guy.




60 or so years before Asians became apparently crazy and rich, some better-off families hired female helpers from China as live-in nannies or daily helpers. They were called ma-jie or mother-older sister, a respectful term that combines two salutations for elder female family members.

Ma-jie were typically dressed in a white mandarin-collared loose top over loose black pants. They usually had their hair neatly pinned in a bun, or in a single long plait. They were loyal, dependable and, in many instances, integral members of the families they worked for.

Many took vows of celibacy, and never returned to China. They remained with their employers or shared accomodations with fellow ma-jie until their retirement or death.

In the above photo, you can see a ma-jie washing clothes. A lady’s Peranakan attire is drying on a clothesline; not an uncommon scene in an employer’s courtyard.

But here’s the full picture.

This is a mural I came across in Singapore. It was so realistic I stood for quite a while just admiring it.



Living Library ~ Acts of Kindness #29

I’ve been helping out at the library once or twice a week with shelving, mending, and with setting up book displays. My full-time colleagues handle the queries and all the other administrative tasks. I enjoy my time there immensely because it is quiet (usually) and I get first (or second) dibs on new books and magazines.

After these several months, I’ve come to realise something rather sad: technology has relegated librarians to sorting, mending, shelving and hunting for misplaced items. As one of my colleagues puts it – “Nobody sees us till they don’t see the books.”

Books Reading Library Little Library Free
photo: LisetteBrodey

The typical users in my library look for their books on computers. They can check if the books are available, and an automatic layout pops up with the locations. They borrow their books by scanning their Library IDs and then the books, and out comes a little date-due slip. The same computers tell them where to locate reference books and resources meant for in-library reading. If there is a fine to be paid, it is deducted from a cashcard. Librarians not required.

My colleagues find themselves excelling these days in two major areas: on search and rescue missions when the computer says a book is right there but nobody knows where it really is, and by listening when visitors come in more for a chat than a book. Because, yes, we do have visitors who stop by mid-morning and stay past teatime as the library represents their only human contact for the day.

As the march of technology continues with ebooks and elibraries, and as funds are diverted to apparently more useful purposes than maintaining a building for reading, the community library and its librarians may be endangered. I find that sad.

Now, I realise not all libraries are the same, nor are their visitors. My experiences may simply be the result of my particular community. But I suspect there might be some similarities wherever you are.

So what has this rambling piece got to do with kindness?

I want to say “thank you” to the three teenagers who asked if we needed help with putting up posters. To the lady who asked if we wanted coffee on her way to get some. To the two little girls who said, “thank you, and see you in two weeks!” as they left. To the visitors who wave, smile and plain old recognise there is a human being sitting behind the counter.

And to you, the librarian: thank you for doing what you do in promoting reading, in caring for reading material, in maintaining a safe environment for reading whether it is in a school or community hall, for being the forgotten guardian of what we want to know.



Communication, Smartphone, Mobile Phone
photo: geralt

I tap my keyfob to get out the door, and out the gates. I tap my travel card for the train. I decide against taking the driverless shuttle and walk to my building. Upon arrival, I tap my card to enter. I settle down and tap on my keyboard and various devices to communicate with everybody and anybody who has sent me messages and things to read. I attend a briefing where I listen to the presentation of the uber boss reaching out to us from the other side of the world.

I tap my watch to pay for coffee in the cafeteria. I tap my phone to e-pay my share of lunch. Naturally, throughout lunch, we’re all tapping our phones and catching up with all our other friends not at the table (or not even in the same country, or not even really known to us except via an avatar and a chosen moniker).

Because I have 12 minutes to spare before the end of lunch, I engage in a Scrabble game against an opponent I don’t know and have never seen but that beats me to a pulp.

I run into a problem with my email password so I call a helpdesk. I listen to a recording that gives me a list of eight numbers I can press, each with another 5 choices, then I listen to a Richard Clayderman recording for 22 minutes before the line of the person I need to speak to buzzes and says “the mailbox is full … please contact us via email …” which I can’t access because that’s my login problem in the first place.

I stop to get take-out after work and tap on the e-menu, adding extra sauce and opting for reduced sugar in my drink. I want to protest the higher cost of less sugar but there’s no “Contact Us” option. “Contact Us” could possibly be the greatest oxymoron of the 21st Century.

I stop to collect my laundry and tap my code, watching as the carousel whirls about and a metal arm hands me my coats.

When I get home, I say, “Hi, I’m back!”

And realise that, just like that, I’ve spoken more to the cactus than to any human being in the entire day.




To repost or not to repost?

I’ve posted this photo previously but it seemed quite appropriate to repost it.

This impressive and quirky wall delayed our departure from Stratford because we just had to read and admire everything that was on it! Afterall, someone had made the effort to create this wall, and someone had written the plays it pays homage to.

This photo of The What On Earth Wallbook of Shakespeare was taken at Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of the playwright extraordinaire.