Every day we rush around, busy in our own life, and don’t realize all the small things we do or see may really have a big impact. How do we measure the impact of small acts of kindness? I would guess we don’t see the effect that small act may have on the recipient, we have since moved on.
I travel between several offices for work and one building happens to be next door to animal control. In their parking lot is a kennel where they bring the dogs out for fresh air. There are times, too, when people will find a stray and leave them in the kennel, to be found next day by the animal control employee. I tend to take a peek to see what might be in the kennel as I go to my building and admit I am a sucker for a pleading dog face. Many times I wish I could take the animal home with me, although that’s obviously not practical. I would have a thousands animals if I did that.
Recently, I was entering my building and one of the animal control folks was out trying to find a kitten hiding in the hedges. I put my things down and together we found the kitten. Poor little thing was so scared. Talking to the employee, I learned the kitten will most likely find a new home.
A few days later I was again traveling to an office when I came to a stop sign. There were a few cars in front of me so I had a moment to observe. On the corner was a man holding a sign. He was homeless and hungry and asking for help. The few cars ahead of me pretty much ignored him, and to be honest, many times I do too. That day however, he caught my eye and I grabbed a few dollars from my pocket. As I pulled up to the stop I rolled down the window and handed him the small amount of money. As I handed him the money my hand touched his, similar to a handshake, and for a moment this man had the realization that someone cared. If even for a moment.
Last summer we were in Portland on the commuter train seeing the city. Part of the adventure to me is the people watching. On this particular train was an older woman carrying several bags. Homeless? possibly. As we got to our stop and exited the train I noticed the woman had a sweatshirt draped over one of her bags, and it was starting to drag on the ground. She had her hands full with her belongings so I tapped her shoulder and said ” careful you don’t lose your sweatshirt”. At the same time I helped put it back in her bag since her hands were full. As I did this she stopped and exclaimed ” Oh thank you! that’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me. Thank you thank you.” That sweatshirt may have been the warmest article of clothing she owned. To think my small act of kindness meant so much, I was surprised at that.
Do we just pass by people less fortunate than us and watch as they lose a sweatshirt? Pass by the homeless man on the corner because he’s down on his luck? Ignore the kitten because we are in a hurry? These small acts of kindness took no time at all for me, but what did they mean to them? A meal, warmth, life?
Take a moment for a small act, you never know how it may impact a life, your own included.