Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day Prep: the Kindness of Strangers

This post originally appeared on Chasing My Bees on February 9, 2011.

I was catching up on the twitters this morning and came across my friend Brent's hilarious account of egg-shopping in the current snowblizzard. At the end of a string of tweets, he revealed that the lady in the checkout line in front of him couldn't get her card to work. So he asked the checker to scan his items, and he paid for it all. Brent played it off like he was in a hurry, but secretly, he's a good dude. Just don't tell him I said so.

It reminded me of the time, in 2007, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper. They published it on February 14th. Here is that letter:

On the day before Valentine’s Day, after my husband left home for his night shift at work, I took our nearly-6-month-old daughter and nearly-3-year-old son to Wal-Mart to get their dad a gift. I was wearing my daughter in a front carrier pouch and my son was riding in the cart. The gift I’d picked out was very large. As I was contemplating how to get it into the cart without damaging it or my children, a woman who was passing by put down what she was carrying and helped me load my item into the basket. I was very grateful for her help and told her so.

When we finally reached the checkout line, my son accidentally opened the candy I’d promised him. The man behind us in line saw me struggling to clean the mess (still with my daughter on my chest), and he helped me pick up the candy. After thanking him, I tried to reach sideways into the basket behind the bulky box and again, he came to my rescue. I thanked him once more. My total came to a few dollars more than the cash I had on me so I asked the lady to take off one of the food items, apologizing to her as I asked. The total came within a few cents of the amount of money I had; yet another thing to be grateful for.

As I was leaving, I thanked them both for their help and wished them a good evening. After bundling my children against the frigid wind, we hurried to the car. The man who’d stood behind me in line ran to catch up with us, holding in his hand the item I couldn’t pay for. All he said to me was, “I couldn’t let her have to restock it.” I thanked him yet again, with a huge smile on my face. As my son yelled his thanks, the man grinned at us, turned, and walked away.

I make it a point to do small kindnesses for people when I can; it’s the way I was raised. It’s amazing when the person on the receiving end of kindness is me.

On the day before Valentine’s Day, people I’ve never seen before and will likely never see again showed me the kind of love that often gets lost amid the roses and chocolates and big heart balloons- genuine, honest, and easy compassion.

I want to thank them, and everyone else who hasn’t forgotten what it means to do good to others.

Savannah Butler gives a glimpse into her life as a stay-at-home mom (and nurse, and chef, and teacher, and nose-wiper, and chauffeur, and disciplinarian, and kiss-giver) to three little Bees. She quite literally chases her Bees around every day, hoping to catch some of the sweetness that drips off of them (and to avoid all other drippings). Her blog serves as a digital Post-It note for things she wants to relive and remember for years to come.

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