Sunday, April 5, 2009

Small Kindnesses

I woke up this morning thinking about a little incident that happened at the grocery store I used to work at. Maybe it had something to do with the wonderful weather. My bedroom windows are south facing, so waking up can be at times stuffy - like a greenhouse. Especially when sleeping in. Lying in bed with the beautiful sunny weather blaring I suddenly remembered that I could start opening up my window again. Oh, how I had forgotten.

So, for some reason, lying there with the window open and the breeze coming in, I started thinking about this incident that happened; then I started thinking about a small article my Granddad Stilwell had written, some few years before he died.

He was a rather prolific writer in his way, and a poet. He had pieces published here and there throughout his life. This one article talked about doing small acts of kindness; about how we are negligent especially in small kindnesses.

I was thinking about this article and this incident at the store, which I'll get to. Then, later in the morning I came on this post by Amy Welborn. Then I really started wondering. Why would I, on waking, just start thinking about this little thing that happened:

It was my evening shift at the store. Before I came into work I stopped at a nearby parish, my local parish, to go before the tabernacle. (As is usual with any story worth relaying on this blog, it started off with my going to Adoration first.) I came into work buzzing. I remember it was a good work shift. I got all my tasks done in due order and the time breezed by. I came to the front to take my manager's place at the cash register.

Somewhere in the time that she was getting off the phone to go into the back to have her supper a lady came into the store and asked to use the phone. She seemed kind of harried. She used the phone. When she got off the phone I understood she was having some problem with her vehicle.

She didn't ask me to do anything, but simply thanked me for letting her use the phone, and conversation-like, I asked if she was having problems with her vehicle. She confirmed; it wasn't starting, but it was turning over. But there was nothing in her way that suggested a plea for help. She seemed to be in another place, and to be going there, and for a split second I almost let the incident alone. She would walk out the store and that would be that.

But I was buzzing on something. Without making any fuss or noise I said to my manager to wait a few minutes more at the front while I go help this lady. My car was just in the parking lot. I went and pulled it around and up the street, parrallel with her truck. She had jumper cables. I popped my hood and connected the two batteries and she started up her truck; I handed her the cables and her face had a look of relieved gratitude, almost desperately relieved. And she was off.

When I came into the store the next day one of my co-workers told me some lady had come in looking for me and that she had come to say thank you and that since I wasn't there she would come back some other time to say thanks.

One day she came while I was there. She shook my hand and told me thank you so much and what could she do for me; do I like movies and would I want some gift certificates, and there's me saying oh no, it was nothing and yadda yadda...and then she said these words:

"You have no idea how much you helped me".

I didn't learn what it was I helped her with and really, I don't want to know. And I'm sure at the time she didn't want to lay it all on me, whatever it was. But I remember that certain definite feeling, or a chill, when she said those words.

What if I didn't go to Adoration beforehand? Would I have jumped up to help that woman? Maybe I would have.

But maybe not.

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