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Spotlight: An unexpected act of kindness

Posted: Thursday, Sep 27th, 2012

People are kind all the time, in many ways, but I think it’s the unexpected acts and gestures of kindness that mean the most. In a world where people are so cynical, pessimistic and generosity is a luxury, it is wonderful to see people offering a hand-up.

I was on Facebook this past week and came across a photo of a dry cleaner’s window. A large sign hung in the window that read, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview we will clean it for free.”

I was in a rush and didn’t think much of it at the time, but as I went through the rest of the day, my mind kept thinking about that photo. Who owned the cleaners? What motivated them to make that offer? Had anyone taken them up on their offer, if so how many? How long were they going to keep the sign up? These were just a few questions that crossed my mind.

Isn’t it amazing how powerful one picture can be? Whoever said a picture was worth a thousand words was so right. Even more right is the saying that a picture can create more questions than it answers.

One dry cleaners owner made one gesture of kindness; one person took a picture of that and put it on Facebook; and one person after another passed that photo along to others, until it got to me. I wonder how many people saw that photo before I did. Did it have the same effect on them as it did on me?

All it takes is one simple, unexpected, act of kindness to change someone’s life. Can you imagine a homeless person who finally got a job interview, who saw that sign at the perfect moment, got his or her clothes cleaned for free and got the job? That one simple act of kindness then changed the course of someone’s life.

How often have you been inspired to do something, try something, give something, then talked yourself out of it, thinking it wouldn’t really matter anyway? When you saw that person holding a sign at the corner of the street and thought, “I should give them the change in my pocket,” or the time the person in front of you in the grocery store checkout line was counting change to pay for something and you had the urge to buy for them. In those moments did you follow your instinct and act, or did you talk yourself out of doing it?

Kids are amazing at following their instincts. If you ever watch them closely, they can tell if someone is just not having a good day. A little girl was walking into the store and a little boy was walking out with a bright red fire engine in his arms. The two looked at each other for a brief moment. All the while their parents never noticed the exchanged glance. Then, all of a sudden, the little boy ran back and gave his toy to the little girl and then went back to his mom. No words were ever exchanged, but the two were communicating kindness and selfless love. Why can’t we be as a little child sometimes?

One day I was having a really hard day, I was tired, stressed and ready to go home and get some sleep. I stopped at my sister’s house for a few minutes and, as we were sitting there talking about nothing in particular, my nephew came up to me and said, “Auntie Tori do you need a hug?” He then squeezed me tightly, smiled at me and then ran off. It was a small, unexpected, act of kindness that made the rest of my hard day just melt away.

It may be a handshake, a hug, offering to listen, paying someone’s grocery bill or just smiling at someone that might be just what he or she needs. That one unexpected act of kindness might just change the course of their day from sadness to joy. Never underestimate the power of one random act of kindness. The power is yours; choose to use it every day. I look forward to seeing and hearing about all your random acts of kindness in the future. I will be on the look-out for them.

Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker, and reporter. She can be reached at torivigil@yahoo.com

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