I just love random acts of kindness. They are uplifting and joyful to both give and receive. Like someone putting money in your meter so that you don’t get a parking ticket. Or someone paying the tab of a young couple at a restaurant. How about letting someone merge in front of you when their lane is blocked? OK, that one is the law, but it not everyone allows it to happen.
One of my favorite acts of random kindness was gifted upon me at the grocery store. I was shopping with my three older boys, and hugely pregnant with my fourth. I was in the “nesting” stage of late pregnancy, so I was making sure that we had enough food to last us for the next 6 months. Don’t laugh! I wasn’t sure when I would get out again with a newborn and 3 older kids in tow. So there I was, in the checkout lane behind two others. I was hot, tired, achy, and very pregnant. The kids were cranky. And tired. And threatening mutiny if I didn’t feed them soon. My cart was overflowing, and I was contemplating paying off the bagger to load my van, then follow me home to put everything away. Then maybe he’d make us all lunch. In the midst of daydreaming, I was also trying to control my rapacious offspring, when I heard “Hey! Hey, Mom!” Which I promptly ignored since it didn’t come from any of my children. Then again, “Hey, Mom!” followed by a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see the sweetest older gentleman gazing expectantly at me.
Oh, you mean me?
Yeah! I’ve got something here for your little ones.
Yeah! Don’t worry, I’m no weirdo, Mom. Names Shorty. Do they like stuffed animals?
Yeah! We love stuffed animals! The kids were obviously listening.
Can I give them some of mine, Mom? They’re new and clean. I give them to all the kids.
Then he took a bag out of his cart, which was filled to capacity with brand new stuffed animals. At first I was nervous, but the check out lady smiled and nodded. My kids were thrilled, so I let it go. They each chose one, and thanked him profusely, and off he went. My day was saved, because now the kids were happy, and we were able to smoothly checkout. The cashier told me that Shorty comes in almost everyday and gives away stuffed animals. She said he’s a real angel.
Several months later, I was at the same store with my youngest two boys. We weren’t in the store 5 minutes before I heard, “Hey! Hey, Mom!” I grinned and turned around.
Well, hi there, Shorty!
Hi, Mom! I’m no weirdo or anything. Names Shorty. Do your kids like stuffed animals?
Yes, Shorty they do.
Great. How ’bout they have a couple of mine?
They would like that.
Son 3# chose one for himself and one for his younger brother. As this was a lengthly process, Shorty proceeded to show me a money clip with “Shorty” printed on it. Seems he served in the Korean War. He made the money clip in a hospital after the war, where he staying for “battle fatigue.” He said they kept them busy so they wouldn’t have bad dreams. Then he told me that he collects stuffed animals to give to the kids he meets. He said that he gets a lot of them from one of those claw machines. He carries them everywhere, so that he won’t run into a kid empty handed. He likes to make a special trip to the local hospital once a week, to deliver them to the kids in Pediatrics. It’s just what he does. I told him that was really nice of him.
Hey, Shorty? Would you mind if I took your picture?
Sure. Sure, Mom! Oh, yeah! That’s a good one.
He was about to tell me more of his story, when a man walked into the store with his son. Shorty completely forgot what he was saying, and was off like a shot, chasing the guy down the aisle.
“Hey! Hey, Dad! Dad!”
Shorty is an angel, and he is on a mission.