Help Yourselves! ~ Acts of Kindness #33

My seat in the office is near a vacant desk. Nobody knows why there’s such a desk but it’s become the go-to place for homeless ownerless belongings; water bottles, pens, extra handouts … you know, the sort of stuff that appears after a meeting and noby ever comes back to claim? It’s the height of irony, really, that this desk gives all manner of stuff a temporary home but itself is unused for its original purpose of being somebody’s desk.

In late September, somebody put a box of cookies on that desk. Accompanying it was a stack of small bowls and a note that said, ‘Help yourselves! Have a great day!’ The other riff-raff items had been placed in a box on the floor and this treat now had pride of place in the middle of the desk. You can imagine the delight and confusion. Nobody knew who had done this and, while I sat close to this desk, I never saw who the benefactor was either. There were many smiles that morning.

photo by anaterate

A week later, a box of tea bags appeared. Then a large bag of freshly roasted nuts. Then some fruit tarts. Then a tin of chocolates. While we eventually learnt who had brought some of these items, nobody ever found out who put the cookies there! Or if anyone did, they never told me.

So, to the person who started the little hospitality table – my thanks to you. Your act of generosity and kindness brought more than cookies – it paved the way to other contributions, and our colleagues have stopped to eat, to chat with each other, and to catch a breath. We have slowed down our manic dashing about to say ‘hi’ and to give ourselves a little treat. Thank you, also just as much, to everyone else who brought something to share.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Journal Journey

I am a coward when it comes to trying anything new.

It’s not that I have a fear of failure because I’m completely familiar with that feeling! Nor is it the unwillingness to change. It’s more the trepidation that comes with not knowing what to expect.

Back in June, when I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors, I wrote a little (here) about these fears and about attempting to start a bullet journal so there’d be some order and planning to my life. I’d hoped the doodling and writing would help tame the tremors.

Well, I’ve bitten the bullet, to use a terrible pun. Many hours of YouTube videos and much scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram later, I started my journaling journey in July.

Nobody really needs to see my messy monthly layouts, clueless cover pages or the sorry state of my spreads. Don’t get me started on my horrible handwriting – alas, I can’t even blame the tremors for that one – or my clashing colour choices. Some day, when I’m less of a coward, perhaps I’ll share some of these pages. But not today.

Today, I’m writing about my bujo journey because I’ve filled up one Leuchtturm notebook, and it feels good! Also, the tremors have significantly reduced.

There’s nothing like looking back and seeing how you’ve lived your life, how much time was wasted overplanning for things that sorted themselves out, how the weekly shopping could be better consolidated with better planning…

I’m starting my second notebook for November. To mark the occasion, I’m sharing this page, inspired by the talented @spotgirldesigns.

I don’t do her artistry any kind of justice, believe me, but I tell myself I’ve managed an “arty”-looking page, crooked lines, weird spacing and all! So I want to thank her, and every one who has generously shared their journal ideas.

Kindness Dilemma ~ Acts of Kindness #32

I’m not entirely sure if I should smile or cry that this happened to me several days ago.

photo by quinntheislander

I want to smile because caring, gracious people are still all around us. I want to cry because I feel I may have offended the same gracious people.

What happened? I boarded the bus for home, carrying a tote and a small paper bag. As I passed the driver’s cabin after paying the fare, a young lady half stood and gestured to her seat. “You sit,” she said.

I thanked her politely and smiled widely, but declined. I had only three stops to go and was perfectly fine with standing.

As I made my way towards the rear of the bus, two students jumped up and chorused, “Auntie, you sit down!” Again, I thanked them and declined, assuring them I was fine.

But here’s my dilemma: should I accept such offers? I feel I should have because the rejection might send unintended messages to those of us raised to be gracious. Have I “taught” the students, for instance, not to offer their seats next time?

But why would I sit when my journey is short? And your day might have been more tiring so you deserve the seat even more.

The only thing I’m certain of is my gratitude that gracious kindness still exists.

What do you think? What would you have done?

By the way, I’m not yet a senior citizen and I don’t look elderly. I think.

Rogue Rider ~ Act of Kindness #31

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photo: pixel2013

If you were a cab driver, and you discovered that your last passenger had left his mobile phone in your back seat, what would you do?

This particular driver drove back to the condo where he’d dropped his passenger off, intending to return the phone. What happened next? The passenger beat him up.

Yes, that’s exactly what happened. According to a news report, the driver managed to locate the passenger at the condo BUT the passenger concluded that the driver had stolen his phone and attacked him. Eye witnesses said the driver hurt his wrist and was forced to drive off with his doors still open, to escape the passenger’s wrath. The condo security guards did nothing to intervene, despite other residents asking them to do so.

In the end, the police were called. In court, the passenger was defended as being overstressed by work and having been drinking. He has since been charged with causing hurt and assaulting a public servant, and will spend four weeks in jail.

I am saddened on so many levels.

I keep thinking: How could the driver have stolen the phone? If he had, why would he then return to the condo? Why did the guards do nothing? If stress and drink reduced this man to such an act of violence, was it his first time? Will he do it again? Stress and drink won’t magically leave our lives. The man possibly needs more help than a jail sentence. What of the driver? Will he bother to return the next lost item? Will he view his passengers with a degree of caution and mistrust?

But most of all, I keep thinking: what is the price of an act of kindness? Or honesty?

It’s not something I had to think about before.

THANKS

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.

 

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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 https://myricopia.com/

… 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.

 

THANKS

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.

THANKS

A+ Train ~ Act of Kindness #28

I opted to splurge and buy a first class seat for a train journey London to Durham. And received a first class lesson on acts of graciousness and kindness.

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picture: mskathrynne

As the train moved off, there was a mild commotion behind me. A young mother had entered my carriage, pushing along a stroller with a wide-eyed baby, and balancing her backpack and diaperbag. No one really bothered as she muttered, “sorry, sorry” as she made her way forward. Coming in the opposite direction was the drinks cart.

Then the wheels of the stroller jammed themselves on the floor rivets of my seat (I don’t really know what else to call them!) and on the one across the aisle. Baby screeched and almost toppled out, if not for the timely grab by the lady seated opposite me.

The lady cuddled Baby, cooing a nursery rhyme, while gentlemen from surrounding seats rose to help. One took the backpack, one reached for the diaperbag, and two attempted to free the wedged stroller. Mum’s mobile and purse ended up with me.

It took a few moments to free the stroller, and to calm Mum and Baby. As her seat was actually in the next carriage, the lady continued to sing to the baby while walking off, accompanied by two men, one carrying the bags and the other carrying the stroller. Mum retrieved her phone and purse and followed, still apologising and thanking everybody. Meanwhile, the drinks cart had been reversed out of the carriage.

There was a round of applause when the three passengers returned, reporting that Mum and Baby were safely in their seats.

THANKS

Travel Treasures ~ Act of Kindness #27

My recent travels opened my eyes to a great deal of beauty, both natural and manmade over centuries past.

But beauty was also right there in the acts of kindness, courtesy and graciousness I witnessed every day.

Such as the cheery “Good morning” and warm “Have a good day”.

Such as the door patiently held open and the simple “After you”.

Such as the orderly queuing and waiting for a turn in crowded loos, fitting rooms, and packed food courts.

Such as the lady who reached the front of a London store fitting room queue after 20 minutes, and told the sales clerk to let a pregnant young woman right at the back take her place, and that she was prepared to trade places.

Or the elderly man in Bath who was ushered into a coffee shop and given a cool drink to escape the 31-degree heat.

Or the endless rows of dog dishes of fresh water in Looe, regularly replenished by shopkeepers, so our canine friends would be happier trotting about in the heat.

Or the Cardiff Castle guides who stayed on to tell their stories past the closing hour.

Or the men and women who offered food and drink to the homeless and hapless in the sudden evening chill.

Or this little lad who toddled forward to drop some money. Then proceeded to join in the performance – his way. The singer was delightful and talented, and won more hearts by singing with him.

Thank you, Britain.

THANKS