By Jeanette Hurt
Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.
Many times we do something positive or say something kind, but we don't see the impact it has on other people. We may practice these "random acts of kindness," but we never know what happens next. One time, I was lucky enough to find out.
I was returning from a business trip to northwest Wisconsin when I stopped to refuel and get a snack at one of those travel plaza/gas station combos on the expressway. It was late, I was tired, it was starting to rain, and all I wanted to do was get home, but home was still more than two hours away. I was feeling slightly crabby, and my back hurt from all the driving.
I went inside to buy some veggie chips and a sparkling water. The checker smiled at me, and we chatted for a moment. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I do remember the kindness she showed me. Our brief interaction brightened my spirits, and when I got back in my car, I had a smile on my face. My car and my stomach were both refueled, but more importantly, I was refreshed. Her small act of kindness kept me going on the last leg of my journey home.
The next week, I was cleaning my purse, and I came across the receipt. The receipt reminded me of the clerk's warmth, and it had the address of the store. On impulse, I decided to write a quick thank you note to her manager. I normally don't write thank you notes — in fact, except for my wedding, I've never written many notes of thanksgiving or gratitude — but I've learned to heed such promptings.
Initially, I felt a little awkward, embarrassed even, to be writing a thank you note to a gas station manager, but I set aside my "feelings" to listen to my gut. I told the woman's manager exactly what I've just shared with you — that his employee's kind words and caring attitude stood out to me, brightening my trip home. It took all of five minutes to write the note and affix a stamp to the envelope. I dropped the missive in the mail, and that was that.
That is, until a week later, when I received a thank you note for my thank you note. That clerk — Robin is her name — wrote me back. As a result of my note, she received a commendation from her manager, a company award pin, and then, to top it off, a merit raise. I was stunned, and the note brought tears to my eyes. Robin's kindness inspired me to return her positivity, and there it was — a small, mini chain reaction of goodness.
In these challenging times, it's especially important to spread joy and gladness whenever and wherever we can. Whether it's a note or a kind word or even just a smile, a little gratitude goes a long way. More people complain than give thanks, and I've heard it said that it takes ten kind words to overcome a single harsh one. It sometimes takes a conscious effort on our part to say more positive words than negative ones, and to do more positive things than negative ones, but the ripple effect of that goodness is powerful.
Mother Teresa advised us to "do small things with great love." Oftentimes, when we do such small things, we don't get to see the effects of our kind words or deeds, but every so often, we're blessed to discover the positive outcome. If there's one thing I've learned from writing that short note it's to give in to the impulse of kindness when it strikes.
You never know what good may come of it or where it might lead you.