My mother, like most mothers, always taught me to be polite, kind, and generous. I was raised to be patient and considerate of others. I like to think that I took these lessons to heart and am the type of woman my mother is proud of (spoiler I totally am and she totally is and that is not conceit because she will most likely say so in the comments). Not that southerners have a corner on the politeness market, but I am a good Southern woman.
It has come to my attention lately that these virtues which were so instilled in me as a child are not necessarily considered normal by the populace at large. Even in the south where we are known for holding doors, using our 'sirs' and 'mams', and all the pleases and thank yous in the world, general common courtesy and decency seem to be uncommon enough to cause shock and awe when they are shown.
The husbeast and I were taking advantage of our first free Sunday in four months by enjoying a leisurely breakfast at our local Einstein Bros. We like to grab a bagel and coffee (juice for me), and chat away the morning before finding some adventure to occupy our day. It is our favorite Sunday ritual.
We walked up to the counter to place our order and I looked down to see a key on a keyring sitting there. A young woman in yoga pants who had been in front of us was already bustling out the door with her breakfast in hand. I held it up and mused a moment if it was hers.
The kid at the register held out his hand and said he would take care of it, but that to me seemed silly. I was already on the outside of the counter, he was wired up to the drive thru headset, and she was almost to her car. As the key was too small to be a car key I figured she would drive off without the key and not know it was missing until it was too late.
Without a thought I turned and jogged out the door after her. I caught her halfway to her car and held out the key to her. She at first thought it was hers until she realized her keys were in her hands. She thanked me and continued on her way leaving me with the lonely key. I wondered if it's owner had long since left the shop and would forever be without their key.
Upon closer inspection I noticed the key chain was a Harley Davidson key chain. I also noticed I was now standing beside a parked Harley and sitting a few feet away was a gentleman wearing a Harley t-shirt enjoying a cup of coffee. No clue-x-four needed here. He was incredibly grateful for the return of his key, though he noted he wouldn't have gotten anywhere without it since it was his bike key.
I headed back inside to place my order feeling satisfied with my little good deed of the day. I really didn't think too much of it, I mean it wasn't like it was any sort of inconvenience to me and it saved someone from unnecessary panic. The kid at the register however thought what I did was wonderful. He said he was amazed anyone would go to that much trouble to return a key, that most people would have just given it to him and not thought about it.
I got a discount on my bagels for my trouble.
I sat there eating my discounted bagel and sipping my orange juice and was just baffled that this kid was so shocked and impressed by what I considered common courtesy. Would people really just let someone walk away without their keys, or anything else they had left behind? Would people really be too busy and self concerned not to take the 45 seconds from their days?
It didn't hurt me in any way, and in the end I had some instant karma with a bagel discount (not that I was expecting that or needed it to do what was clearly the right thing to do). Why would people not do that?
A few days prior to my bagel shop encounter I was sitting in line to get into line to the drive thru at my local Raising Canes on my lunch break. The location near my office has a very poorly designed parking lot. If you enter from the direction I have to enter from you normally must wait to work your way into the line, which means someone has to actively let you in.
I arrived and there were two cars in line that were there before me, so I was going to wait and come in behind the second car when it passed me. I wasn't expecting to get to go ahead of someone who was already waiting when I showed up. Just before the second car got to me another car pulled in behind him and as they moved forward it was obvious this person was not going to let me in where I should be allowed in. I was in for quite a wait.
Only that isn't what happened.
The car I was originally was going to get in behind stopped and waved me in front of him. He gave up his spot in line so I wouldn't have to wait. I was pleasantly surprised. He ended up in line all of maybe a minute longer than he would have been, but got me into the line probably several minutes before I would have gotten into the line. It was so incredibly nice.
I bought him his lunch.
The kid at the drive thru was more than happy to let me pay for the guy though he was confused why I would want to when I made it clear I had no idea who he was. I tried to explain that the man had been nice enough to let me cut in line, and I was just paying the kindness back. The kid had never heard of such a thing and that made me a little sad.
Have we really become a society where we would be discourteous to others because it is more convenient? Is our time so precious that we can not take a minute from our day just to be kind to someone for no other reason than to be kind? Has it come to a point where offering a few dollars to show appreciation is a shocking act?
I don't think so. In fact I know that is not the absolute truth. I am proof of that, and so is the man who let me into the line. There are still good people out there doing good kind things for no other reason than they can and they should.
I am reminded that kindness breeds kindness and the more good and nice things I do, the more others will hopefully do the same. My good deed today will be another persons good deed tomorrow. Who knows when that one small kindness is the difference that a person needs to make it through the day.
So the next time you see someone drop something, pick it up for them. If you see someone leave something, return it. If you see someone blocked in traffic, let them in. Give up that minute and be the good you want to be shown to you. Then when someone is kind to you make sure to acknowledge it whether it is something as grand as buying their lunch or discounting their breakfast, or just a warm smile and a wave, it will make a difference.
Go forth and be good to one another, it matters.