I was recently a reluctant recipient of an unexpected act of kindness. I lost my drivers licence and after weeks of dragging my feet, decided I had to do the dreaded deed of going to the Driver testing centre to apply for a new one, as well as a temporary licence.
Now I must admit, I am not a fan of bureaucratic processes of any sort, but since this was a need, I reluctant arrived there and tried to get through the next 1 hour and 30 minutes, with my sense of humour still intact.
In my more dramatic moments – which is all the time, I am convinced that these types of places are specifically designed to suck all the joy and energy out of you. The sad décor; the signs with instructions written in such a way that you can’t read them; the dingy lighting; and my favourite, the demotivated and angry staff. It is all setup to take the human out of you
After spending 1 hour and 30 minutes shuffling along the lines, I got to the cashier’s window and discovered that they no longer accepted cards as a form of payment. I just felt the last vestige of energy I had left, slowly drain down my feet into a puddle on the concrete floor.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people who carries very little cash in my bag, my cards and I, we are best buddies. Between being constantly on an airplane and using public transport, it seems prudent not to carry money I would invariably lose. The gentleman sitting next to me, saw the look of horror on my face, and when he asked and I explained, he told me he comes there often, and yes, they’ve changed their system, and now insist on cash only transaction.
As my mind scrambled about finding an ATM nearby, and having to start the line from scratch and how that was going to delay my getting to work. He very casually offered to pay for my licence. I must admit to having been very reluctant to accept his help, I am a naturally very suspicious person, and have been taught never to accept gifts or money from a man who is not family. In hindsight, it is a sad reality that these days, we are always sceptical of the intentions of others.
He insisted that I take the help, with no strings attached. While I was debating about taking his money, I scrounged around in my bag and found R150, which was half of what I needed, hidden away for emergencies inside the side pocket of my bag. I accepted his R150 and paid for the licence. I went back to him and said Thank you, and then explained that I was on my way to the ATM to draw the cash and pay him back. He would not hear of it, and insisted he did not want to paid, and got more and more embarrassed as I insisted. Finally, I thanked him again and left,
For about 10 minutes, I sat in the car and absorbed the feeling of wonder inherent in that moment. I started to reflect on the lessons in this event, none of them rocket science, but things I needed to be reminded of:
That kindness is such an amazing gift to receive
That even in that place that I dislike so much, there were many opportunities for me to be kind if I had been paying attention
That kindness is in acts big and small – it is more about how it makes the other person feel
That someone being a stranger is no reason for me not to show kindness to them
That I need to do more to actively teach my kids how to be kind, this is my obligation as a parent
I am so grateful for that gentleman, for more than saving me a trip to the ATM and a long wait, but for making me realise that I have a role in making the world a better place by looking for ways to display kindness through my actions to others. I am so much more aware of my surroundings, and of how others can use my help. I actively look for opportunities to be kind, even if it is just a smile or a greeting instead of being so consumed by my book or my phone.
In that act of kindness, by extending a helping hand, that gentleman didn’t just touch me, but everyone else who will be a recipient of kindness from me going forward. Perhaps I will also make someone’s day more pleasant.
I hope my story inspire’s more kindness in your life .
Can you remember the last time a stranger was kind to you, or you were kind to a stranger?