Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kindness in Unexpected Places

I've never been a Scarlett O'Hara type, meaning that I don't walk around thinking "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers" because let's face it, I'm stubborn and pretty stinkin' self sufficient. It's the way I was raised, I can't help it. But, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate kindness when people offer it to me and I try to show them kindness in return. That does not, however, make me a kind person. Or at least I don't think it does. I want to think of myself as a kind person because no one really wants to sit around and think of themselves as an asshole. It's a bit of a downer. But, when I take a good hard look at myself I sort of wonder what I do for others that is just genuinely kind and for no other reason than to make them happy. It's not a ton. In fact, I sort of realized that sometimes I can be a bit of a selfish hose beast. I know right?! What a crazy thing to admit! And I always think "You know, if I had more money I would go to a restaurant for dinner and I would pick someone out while I was there and just pay their bill for them, but I don't have that kind of money". Except that kindness doesn't need to be attached to a dollar sign. And I try to do things for people that are nice just for the sake of being nice, but I'm not sure I do it often enough. I have always thought that the work I do with the drama department has been a pretty extravagant act of kindness, since it's all volunteer and I put a lot of work into it for kids who wouldn't necessarily have anyone else to help them out, but I haven't spent much time doing that work these days due to demands at work outweighing the volunteer work I enjoy doing. So maybe I need to find more ways to show kindness.

This all sort of came to my mind after I watched my 60+ year old neighbor shovel our sidewalk in front of our house for us. He's done it several times this winter, and he's never asked for any thanks or anything. In fact, up until this morning, we never even saw him doing it. We would just come home and there would be a freshly shoveled sidewalk in front of our house. How incredibly kind is that? I did see him doing it this morning while walking the dog and thanked him profusely (and as soon as I'm not germy I'm going to make a cookie plate for him and his wife) for being so nice and he responded that he should thank us for giving him the opportunity to get the exercise. Nicest ever!

I've also come to realize that nice acts aren't always actual actions. I had a conversation earlier this week with a co-worker about how sometimes support comes from the most unexpected places. You expect your family to offer up support, and your friends, but there are people out there who are just incredibly kind and supportive despite having no obligation to do so. I have worked with the owner of a publishing distributor for about 5 years now and over that time I've developed a friendship with him that I've come to really enjoy. When I mentioned that no one knows who will be here and who won't next week because we all know there are layoffs coming down the pipeline, he said something about being one of my biggest fans and always willing to offer references or any help he can. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it was kind of a big deal. It made me feel really great to know that someone I've worked with has such a high opinion of me, especially someone who actually doesn't work within my company. It was pretty awesome. And incredibly kind.

So I'm just thinking that maybe I need to figure out more ways to be kind to more people. I know it makes me feel great when others are kind to me, so I think it's time I paid that forward. Especially on days when I'm feeling like a selfish bitch.


Sarah said...

I feel compelled to say that it was Blanche DuBois that depended on the kindness of strangers. Both were played by Vivien Leigh, but Scarlett O'Hara had zero problem being an asshole.

Kind of like me. Hi! I correct blog posts! (Sorry.)

Becky said...

Damn you Vivien Leigh and your many confusing roles! Also, I have to admit that I've never seen Gone With The Wind.

And it's ok if you correct my blog posts. At least someone is reading them.