Last Wednesday afternoon, my doorbell rang. It took me a while to get to the door because I was in the middle of reading about Little Quack while a fort was taking shape around me. By the time I opened the door, all I saw were wet footprints. Then I noticed someone walking away from my car in the driveway. My immediate suspicions were dispelled when the young woman waved and called, “Your lights are on!” Then she pointed to my car, waved again, and got into the truck across the street. Her passenger-seat companion then waved too, and they drove off. I think I said something along the lines of “Oh! Thanks!” But I can’t be sure. I do know that I went to check on my car, and sure enough – the lights were on (and had been on for a couple of hours). I turned them off.
It is these small moments that remind me, no matter how large my neighborhood, town, city, world may be, how we are all basically connected. It sucks to have a dead battery on a rushed and frantic morning. And thanks to a thoughtful stranger, I didn’t have to deal with that.
I’ve been lucky to be aware of friendly gestures a few times. It encourages me to do the same in true cinematic Pay it Forward style. I have to say, these experiences do so much to relieve the sourness of actions that receive so much more attention. Folks will go on for days about cell-phone talking, right-turn taking drivers or the couple with the cranky, whiny baby over brunch. But people who just do plain, old caring things don’t provide as much catharsis when discussed.
So, as corny as it is, I want to thank some people.
Thank you, strangers and neighbors who ring door bells to let people know their lights are on, who return garbage and recycling cans to lawns after the wind has found them a new home halfway down the block, who make funny faces at cranky kids in a restaurant or on-line at the grocery store, who offer to reach something up high on a shelf before someone needs to work up the nerve to ask for help, who stick a quarter in the meter for the guy digging through his pockets in the rain, who stop and wait patiently – without a grimace and a hand waggle – for the pedestrian who has the right of way to cross, who find a museum or zoo membership card on the ground and return it via USPS or to the cardholder’s door, and thank you to all those who perform piles and piles of tiny gestures every day. Sometimes the recipients don’t even know they’ve happened, but it makes everyone’s day a little more pleasant.
Thank you. You’re awesome, you rock, and keep up the good work. It makes a difference.