This morning I witnessed something on my morning commute that really affected me…in a good way. It actually made me stop thinking about all of the things I had to do at work, the gifts I hadn’t yet bought, the gift guide I have told myself I have to write for my site (but am running out of time to do), the bills I have to pay, and all of the other items on my ever-growing to-do list that I may never get to cross off. Sound like you? Yeah, life is hectic, particularly around the holidays. But this event that I saw pretty much wiped away all of those anxiety-causing tasks. Here’s why.
As I stood in the crowded BART train (the rail train that connects the San Francisco Bay Area), a gal walked into the train, holding one of those large, covered, aluminum catering trays. She was young and nicely dressed and had a big purse over her shoulder as well. She quickly looked around the train as she got on and saw it was standing room only.
Within seconds, a guy who was sitting next to the door got up and offered her his seat. The guy was a security guard, perhaps either going to work or returning from it, I can only guess. He wasn’t old nor young, he could have been tired. But that didn’t matter to him. He offered this lady his seat, seeing she had her hands full.
This could have been where this story ended. A nice guy gives a gal his seat. But it didn’t end there, and this is where the story grew on me.
A minute or so later, almost equally without hesitation much like the guy offering up his seat, the gal peeled back a corner of the aluminum cover of her catering tray and pulled out something inside. I could barely overhear the conversation. She offered a piece of the food from her tray to the man who had graciously given up his seat.
“It’s an empanada,” said the gal with an accent. “I made them myself.”
“Oh thanks,” he replied, a bit surprised. “Is it sweet?”
“It’s stuffed with chicken,” she answered. And she explained a bit more about what an empanada was – “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb, empanar, which means to coat or wrap in bread. Even before she had given the explanation, he was devouring it.
And that was it.
But then I started thinking about what had transpired and realized how important it was. I wanted to take photos or mention something to each of them, but I didn’t want to break the moment. It would ruin the message and the magic and invade the privacy of their interaction.
I had to share the story, though. It was about kindness. It was about reciprocation. It was about being selfless and doing something for somebody else.
Here’s why I’m sharing this story. All too often, we get too stressed out about buying the perfect gift for someone. We also often only focus on our immediate connections, our friends, family, or coworkers. What struck me about this transaction was that these two people were perfect strangers. They had never met and they would probably never meet again. And yet, they were kind to each other and shared something they possessed (a seat, a piece of food) to make the other person happier.
So I present this to you as something to think about as you madly dash around for the holidays (or any day, for that matter). Try to be kind. Do something unexpected for a complete stranger. Some ideas:
- If you aren’t in a rush, let a frantic shopper have that parking spot you were waiting for.
- Hold the door open for someone.
- Do something without being asked.
- Let a frazzled parent with kids in tow go ahead of you in line.
- Offer your seat on a bus or train to someone who really needs it.
- Give a homeless person the rest of your lunch instead of throwing it out.
- Let someone merge in front of you on the road instead of speeding up and not letting them in.
- Pay for the car behind you’s toll.
- Go caroling at a retirement home.
- Offer your skills without expecting anything in return.
- Give something away that you are selling to someone who can’t afford it.
This list could go on and on (and if you have ideas, leave a comment if you’d like).
But most importantly, remember that this should come from the heart. Your tiny little action could actually make someone’s day.
Remember, the best gift you can give is kindness!
HTD says: Looks beyond the physical and give from the emotional. Give from the heart.