Good stories are not hard to find. They may take a little more effort to discover. They are more likely seen on YouTube or social media than on the evening news. On occasion we may witness kindness for ourselves. When that happens, it is for us to cherish the goodness in all things. To be grateful that kindness exists at all.
Recently, while visiting a city I had only driven through on other journeys, I witnessed such a kindness. As a part of my job, I was observing the operating procedures of newly acquired business. As a part of my job, I was getting to know a team of new crew members. While speaking with a younger, full time team member, I noticed his being distracted and looking over my shoulder out the window behind me.
I will call this new team member Bob for the sake of privacy. Bob excused himself and walked outside the office where we were standing. He slowly walked toward two people, huddled over a sidewalk just off the property of the business where we were working. There was some hesitation in his steps, as the sun was behind the two strangers, and it was difficult to see with what they were concerning themselves.
When Bob reached the two, he realized there were three, and as a silhouette in the setting sun, I saw Bob extend his hand to an elderly man, laying on the ground after his motorized scooter had turned on its side. After realizing there was a need, I approached. I arrived only after Bob had settled the man in the seat of the scooter. The two people there prior to Bob arriving were the elderly man’s friends and helped get everything in order after Bob made it possible to travel on.
As we walked back to the office, Bob asked me what I thought made the gentleman fall off his scooter. I replied, “Maybe that was his second case of Milwaukee’s Best of the day”.
The elderly man had been to the store and purchased a case of beer. He was disoriented, but in fairness, if I had just fallen off a scooter, I would be disoriented too. There were no jokes about drunks. There was no talk of the virtues or evils of alcohol. In fact, Bob did not discuss much of the incident, after the incident, at all. Bob saw a need, offered a kindness, and went about his day.
As an older man, older folks are inclined to tell me stories of how the younger generation thinks only of themselves. There are thousands of stories about young people being addicted to technology, so much so, that they do not notice the world around them. These are the stories that get press. These are the stories that get told. Media coverage and the telling of a story does not make a story true.
About fifteen minutes after the man in the motorized scooter was well on his way, two fire trucks and an EMT arrived. They were most likely notified that a man had fallen and was lying under a scooter, by a person my age, who was too busy or too scared to stop and help. This is the real addiction to technology. Thinking a call placed on a cell phone somehow takes the place of actually comforting a person in need.
I had known Bob for two days, yet I was proud of Bob, as if I had known him his whole life. The old man on the scooter was in good hands with his friends and did not need a swarm of high cost ambulance workers to evaluate his mental state and health. He needed a hand up. This is what Bob provided.
When I train a team, I do not gloss over mistakes. I do not ignore them. It is important, however, to celebrate the wins. When I choose what to think about, it is not that I forget about failures, as much as it is that I remember achievements. This is a struggle sometimes, but is my intent. Always, when I teach a new team a new thing, I understand that I also have a thing or two to learn. Bob taught me about kindness that day.
What all generations have in common, though there are differences, is the chance to help someone in need. As I grow older, it become easier for me to ignore the needs of others. I fancy myself too busy, or that I am helping in other ways. Seeing a thing like Bob making a decision to help a man up, helps me.
This is an invitation for you to celebrate a win with me. An elderly man is on his way. A young man chose kindness. These seemingly insignificant events will go unnoticed by the world. The Universe keeps a record of the wins in some strange way. Though I have no idea if the deed affected a unified human consciousness or means that the Divine will extend more grace because there are more wins than losses, I do know that on that day, kindness won. And kindness winning is a big deal.
Today, when I am stuck in traffic, or when my feet hurt, or when I am tempted to complain that there are too many restaurants to choose from when I get a little hungry, I will remember Bob. I will think about the good will of young people. I will be thankful for the ability to walk and the kindness of strangers. I will realize that there is more to life than things and I will enjoy the smiles of others. Some may say that is naive, some may say that is simple. Others may say I am not realistic. I sure hope so.