Kindness of a Stranger & Paying it Forward!

in philosophy •  last year 

No idea how many times I've packed my hockey bag in my life, but it's a lot. At the end you do a once over making sure all your equipment is there as all it takes is one thing to be missing and you don't play.

Was getting dressed for my game and realized my left shin pad was missing from my bag...oh crap. I was already running late and there is no way to run home to grab my pad. Ran to check the lost and found to see if there is one in there, anything will do at this point, but nothing.

Now I know a lot of the guys that play at my rink, but not one person I knew was there except for those on the rink. With the prospect of having to not play after bringing the family to the rink to watch as it's one of my rare early games the kids can see I decided to ask perfect strangers from a team that would be playing after us.

Letting someone wear your gear and get it all sweaty right before you will be wearing it is not exactly what anyone wants to do...and to do it for someone you don't know is a big ask. Lets face it, it's kind of gross!

Walked up and asked three people who don't know me if any of them would be willing to let me wear their shin pad, to my amazement all offered to help. The tallest guy said to use his as it would fit best.

By lending me a shin pad I got to play the game I love in front of my kids. Factored in 3 goals for the game and afterwards knew I did my job as the opposing goalie gave me the finger as he walked to the table our teams were sharing by the bar. It was a fun night that wouldn't have happened if not for a strangers willingness to lend a hand.

Now I know this isn't a big deal and my life wasn't drastically effected by this small act of kindness, but for that night it was everything. Sometimes small actions can have a big effect on another person's day.

Wasn't honestly planning to share my hockey story, but as that one kindness was paid forward tonight a 80 something year old lady named Betty made me pause for a minute and reflect. The hockey story was a big deal to me last night and the kids talked about the game today which was fun, but it was just one of thousands of games I've played and will play in my life. Tonight was a little different.

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Paying it Forward

Tonight as I walked out of the grocery store an isle over from my car I noticed an older lady unloading her groceries...well at least trying to. The parking lot slopes and the cart wanted to run away from her and I noticed the battle she was having with the cart while trying to get her bags out. She would get the bag just up off the cart and it would start to move forcing her to put the bag down again. She tried to change the angle of the cart with the same results.

I changed my direction and headed her way instead of straight to my car figuring I'd ask if she wanted a hand. As I walked up to her she was getting very frustrated with the cart. She just couldn't get the right angle with the cart and she wasn't strong enough to lift her bags out while still holding onto the cart.

As I approached she was shaking the cart in frustration. She as facing my direction and noticed me coming so I gave her a smile and walked up. With that she paused her attempts at getting the cart just right so it wouldn't roll away. Never asked if she wanted help as it was clear she needed help at that moment.

Asked if she could hold my cart for a minute while I loaded her bags. Took me all of 30 seconds, but she literally had to wipe away a tear as she thanked me. This took me a little by surprise as it wasn't a big deal and not the first time I've helped someone load their groceries at this store. Never has anyone gotten so emotional over something so little.

She then told me that this was her first shopping trip without her husband there to hold the cart, he was buried on Monday. Her husband would come with and push the cart up and down the isle. Then at the car he would hold the cart as she unloaded the cart. He couldn't stand without the cart or his walker, so this was his job ever since retiring almost 20 years ago.

When I reached out to put my hand on her arm in comfort and she stepped in for a hug which I gladly gave her. With my foot holding my cart from running off, balancing on one foot, there I was hugging a woman I've never met before with my eyes watering up thinking of her situation and how taking a few seconds of my day could impact someone so much.

Now I've met Betty and know that she likes to shop late so I will keep my eye open for her in the future.

I'm Challenging Each of You

You never what Small Act of Kindness might make someone's day. So I put this challenge out there for each of you. The challenge is simple, yet one that most won't bother to do.

Your challenge is to go out tomorrow and do a Small Act of Kindness for a stranger. What this act is really doesn't matter, just put yourself out there and be willing to make the effort to help someone you don't know.


Photo from Pixabay and then edited.



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A nice post @thedarkhorse, thanks for sharing. Being the best version of you as often as possible will go a long way towards creating a sensational life full of reward and fulfillment.

That almost reads like a fortune cookie...lol. But I totally agree!

I welled up a little bit reading this. Thank you for sharing the story!

I guess @lynncoyle1 decided to outsource the making me cry. That is such a sad story. I mean, I'm glad you helped her, but that's so sad. I got up and went to the other room where my wife was and gave her a hug before coming back to write this. I try to help people when I can, but thanks for the encouragement to find more ways to help.

You are so sweet! If it makes you feel any better, I got a little teary when I read it too ;)

Nice to here this touched you in a positive way. Hope it's in the back of your mind when you see a good opportunity to help someone that might need a hand.

Awww @thedarkhorse, you just made me smile and cry! I knew you were a good guy, but now I really know that you are!!

We never really know what's going on in someone's life, and Betty will never forget you for as long as she lives; I'm sure she's already told all kinds of people about the "lovely man who helped her with her groceries"! If I could, I'd hug you right now too, but internet hugs will have to suffice!!

This should be your contest!

I am always aware of what's going on around me, and continually watch to see if someone needs my help. I've always been like that because I just think it's common courtesy. Today, a cleaning lady was in our apartment building, and as I went to leave, I noticed a used mattress by the door. My Spanish is pretty useless, as was her English, but between some pointing and gesturing, I figured out that she had to drag it outside to the garbage. Of course I helped her, and she was very thankful. I also know that many would have walked right past her, because she certainly didn't ask for help.

It's those other people that I don't understand.

Thank you for a beautiful post and a gentle reminder to be kind to strangers, because you're right, you never know what people are going through, and you never know how your actions will affect them. But what we all know, is that everyone is happy when a complete stranger gives them a hand!

Not really sure how to turn it into a contest, but maybe down the road with a little thought.

To be honest helping out a cleaning person is probably the last thing most people would do. They are part of the invisible, the part of society that is there working hard that most don't notice unless they make a mistake.

My Father while an artist had to put all his dreams to the side to pay the bills as artists really had no outlet to make a living back in the late 70's when I was born. He did all sorts of jobs and then ended up with janitor and maintenance at a school. So I understand how people are treated by those that think they are better then someone.

My parents set a great example for me always willing to lend a hand. Now it's my job to set this example for my kids.

To be honest helping out a cleaning person is probably the last thing most people would do. They are part of the invisible

That is such a sad state of affairs then, isn't it. I see people as people, regardless of their occupation, race, gender etc. It's difficult for me to understand those who don't.

That's interesting about your father because I was one of the few teachers at my school who really "knew" all the custodians. One guy, I found out while talking to him, used to be a publisher for a major magazine and decided one day he'd had enough of the stress, quit, and ended up as custodian. People really do make a lot of assumptions don't they?

I'm glad your parents did such a good job with you ;)

Okay, now you have me tearing up, too.

It's not so much that you helped her, it's when you helped her. She needed you there for all kinds of reasons, not just the holding of the cart. No way anyone replaces her husband, but for a moment, in that moment, you were the one to help.

I believe many things happen for a reason. This is one of them. Even if that's all you do for her, it will have been an act of kindness and love. Exactly what she needed that night.

I really hope that we all take up your challenge. :)

I don't play hockey, though, so I don't have any pads to loan. You're on your own there. :)

No way anyone replaces her husband, but for a moment, in that moment, you were the one to help.

Agree there is no way to replace someone you have spent your entire adult life with. She said they got married at 19 years old. Just amazing and inspiring to me.

Bless the gentlemen who all offered to share their shin pad with you...and Bless you for helping Betty in her time of great need. My eyes are not dry...I appreciate so much that you took the time to tell us this story so we can be inspired and know that there are so many good folks in this world despite how the media would like to portray humanity! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 Thank you for BEing the change!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

The media latches onto the worst of the worst for their stories as they are attempting to achieve shock value. Almost feel like if a news station took out the murders, rapes, and shootings (all daily occurrences in Chicago) and instead focused on the community builders, the stories of people giving time & money, and stories of everyday people who achieved great things against all odds they would do amazing.

Because at this point you can't shock me anymore. There is way to much horrific news that has been presented to me over the years and now it's just "noise".

Stories that I mentioned would shock people and inspire them. Show some young adults from the ghetto that are now successful (without sports or rap), how an education can get you out of the hood. Show young adults with "disabilities" who are successful. Show locals who became self made millionaires and how they did it. Give me stories like these and I'll start tuning into the news again.

Really do hope that the story can inspire just one act of kindness beyond what I did. More acts of kindness being done hopefully the more that will get paid forward.

Well, you put that just perfectly! I too cannot be shocked anymore, and hearing you say that makes me think there are a lot of others at this point too, or very close to this point...it brings me hope that we may be nearing the end of this dark age!!

What I fear is that as people are unable to be shocked by some horrific things...seriously when I hear about someone being rapped of all things it doesn't shock me...that things will be taken to the next level. When a scumbag POS that craves attention only gets a quick byline in the news and nobody pays attention to it where do they go next?

I seriously hope that it's not the case, but seems to be the way things have gone. Giving any attention to these people just isn't helping matters IMO.

If I can get past the watering of my eyes after just reading this wonderful blog......I'll be able to comment. I often say to my husband that we hear so few stories like this, as negative news seem to dominate. No-one knows just what another person is going through and your random act of kindness was so very uplifting to read @thedarkhorse It encourages me to not think twice before doing likewise when I see that someone is need of a helping hand. Thank you for sharing this heart warming episode with us.

That was just awesome. I have been going from blog to blog today, reading a post from everyone I follow. You win. I have no prize to offer, but this story is why I am glad I got on steemit today.
tip!
It is something at least!

Don't think I've ever gotten a tip before...thank you for that. Glad that the post was able to make your time on steemit more enjoyable today.

Just a minute, while I go get a tissue...okay. This was an emotional post for me to read. You see, my husband of 40 years played hockey, coached our sons' hockey teams, refereed and was the referee in chief for a minor hockey league. He lived for his hockey. So the story of you having to borrow the hockey equipment was a familiar one. It happens more often than you think.

Then the act of kindness you did for the older lady...well a few years ago that was me, loading groceries into the car, during the rain, a few days after I buried my husband. Although I am a bit younger than this lady, I know what it was like to be in her shoes. Only there was no one to give me a helping hand. I also remember what it was like, so I go out of my way to help others, because you never know just how bad a day they have had and your one small act of kindness goes a long way in making them feel better. Thank you for sharing your story.

Sorry nobody was there to lend you a hand in your time of need. I can't imagine how hard it would be to loose someone after being with them that long. My Wife and I have been together over 20 years and there is no way I can picture waking up tomorrow without her.

You somehow manage to work through the grief and carry on. But you do become keenly aware of small random acts of kindness. And the odd time, people do need a hug. They are free to give and receive but are worth their weight in gold.

Very touching story, I had to dry my eyes before this comment. :-)
I've been a taxi driver many times over the years and love taking seniors for many reasons ( making money is not one of them ). Good customer service is important to me, and with elders even more. They have offered me conversations that had great value to me over the years that so few people appreciate. Oh, it's easy to get frustrated when time is important to the bottom line, and customers need extra time and care for the same money or less. So I've learned to slow it down even more when needed and feel good about taking my time, even going out of my way to be in the area these trips are common.
All the great stories I could tell, maybe a blog is in order. :-)
Thanks for sharing yours

Yes they do need a little extra time and dammit they have earned it, haven't they? While sometimes the story may have no point, or circle back and start all over, I love hearing stories from older people about their past. So much happened from the time someone in their 80's-90's was born until now and they lived it.

I read the post and all 36 comments that were on when I started. Karma is a very real thing, I have helped people when people need, both myself and my wife. Grocery stores, I find a lot of the big chain ones are just plain heartless. I don't know how many times I have seen a short or an elderly person try to get a store person to help them and the employee just walks away. So I walk up and either lift the bag or get the top shelf item for the person, why, because I know the day is rapidly approaching that I will need the help? No I do it because someone needs to. My wife does it because someone needs to. I feel that my karma bank is still in good standing, because when I really really needed help last winter after cancer surgery, the snow plow guy did not even charge to clear my driveway for my wife while I was in the hospital or for the rest of that season. So the next time someone needs their battery jump started, or the dog food lifted into the shopping cart or that top shelf item reached, or any of a hundred small niceties help, it will circle back to you.

You are dead on with the whole Karma thing. Put out a positive energy and a positive energy will be returned. Love that the snow plow person took care of you when you needed it! Great to see Karma in the good form...because she really can be a B when you piss her off.

Hope that you are doing well now and the cancer is gone.

That's a touching story, the 'Betty' one. Well done, it does make you feel good doing things like this.

No doubt it does make me feel good to help others. Much better to be helpful then to tear down others.

Your challenge is to go out tomorrow and do a Small Act of Kindness for a stranger.

Best challenge ever made .
WTG !!

Thank you!

Beautiful ...just a beautiful story. You were on the right time in the right place to give so much to this old lady. And i love it that you are going to look out for her in the future ...that's just lovely. Too much people just look the other way if someone is trouble or needs a little help. I have experienced some situations where I was the only one who helped and others just stupidly watched.

Too much people just look the other way if someone is trouble or needs a little help.

This is what needs to change. I hope that even one person reads this and takes me up on the challenge to find someone in need of help and lend a hand.

I did not take the challenge as for me it is normal to look out and help. I grew up with the maxime to do something good every day, which of course is not possible, because I do not always see people and not always help is needed ...
But i will resteem this post - hopefully someone gets inspired to pay more attention to his surroundings and give a hand to help.

This is why I believe in helping whenever we can. If there is an impulse to do so, do it and do it willingly. We all have things going on, troubles, problems, stress in life that even just a small act of kindness will give us hope of making it through even for just one more day. If what we think may be insignificant, it is the act in itself that saves the day. So, act on that thought of helping. Reach out and extend a hand even if just holding the door or helping with their groceries.

This brings me to an instance though when we went to attend a wake. In came a disabled woman, limping using a cane to balance herself. A gentleman approached her to assist and wanted to usher her to seat. To which the lady rudely said she does not want any help. She further said that just because she is disabled that people should not look at her as if she needs help all the time. She can manage on her own. I don't know how to react in that situation. I guess she may have had a rough day for her to be rude that way. I know she will realize her mistake or is she right?

I'll be honest those that are disabled later in life are the most likely to have issues. They typically were very strong independent people that have now lost some of the control they used to have over their lives. I help out with my Grandparents all the time and know the conversations we have over things like driving, using walkers, allowing others to help out around the apartment, not letting them have a working stove, and so forth. These are 2 people who raised 6 kids and always did what was needed to make ends meat. They aren't used to having anyone help out with anything...they are both workers, both very strong willed, and both very stubborn.

It actually makes me think of a conversation with my brother inlaw yesterday about having to tell those you love when they are acting like an asshole. My Grandmother dealt with some very serious dementia for a while and would get nasty when it first started. I'd tell her when she wasn't behaving. It was my job to do so to help those around her not deal with "Mean Mom" as her kids would call her when that side came out. Luckily some of the issues have reversed after proper treatment, but still have some nights were it's bad and I'm the one heading up to the nursing home and dealing with it.

Anyways I think I now know one of my posts that needs to be written.

You've mentioned about dementia and my partner's grandmother has the same. She was never mean. Only when she got older and started having dementia that she would threaten and hurt the people around her. Her daughters takes care of her but even the kindest of them snaps back at her and she regrets that.

It's a hard thing to deal with. The person you know isn't the person you are dealing with sometimes. They forget where they are, when it is (they can loose decades), and just be completely lost at times. When it happens they can be nasty and they need to be told (in the right way) that they are acting like a jerk. But it needs to come from a place of love and kindness.

The person acting that way doesn't want to be, they are just so lost they don't know what else to do other then push everyone away while they figure out what is going on. I can tell you some crazy stories...and some very sad ones. But in the end each time she has an episode we calm her down and bring he back to us. Not looking forward to the day when that isn't possible and she just slips away for good.

It is just heartbreaking and the worst is that you feel helpless. It's too much to bear thinking that they are going away in this manner and you just want to remember the good memories you had with them.

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In my experience, complete strangers have been more helpful to me than my own family - sadly. But I also agree that so much more could be done if people would just help their neighbors. :-)

I should share my own story of how the people in my church helped me, I've never seen such unending love and generosity as I have here. (And this kindness directly led to me meeting my husband.) I haven't had much opportunity to pay it forward, but I do what I can, when I can.

Please do share your story, blog about it. Don't be afraid to share, the community here is great. If you do please tag me in the post so I don't miss it.

I'm one of the lucky ones and my family would do anything for me. My parents are the type that would go without eating to make sure my Family had food on the table...or whatever else we needed. It's a support level that everyone should have to fall back on if needed, sorry yours didn't do their part.

Strangers sometimes are what we need and they can amaze us with their generosity. It's great that you found your husband due to the kindness of others...this just helps prove the point that we all should be looking out for each other.

Opportunities are all around us if we keep out eyes open. I'm sure you will find little things to do for people for years to come and while you may not realize what you have done even little things can make someones day. Keep looking for ways to Pay It Forward!

Thanks!
I will get to the story, but maybe not today - I've got a full do-to list - and that's just my writing! I will try to remember to tag you - or at least post it in @asapers.

I just finished my entry for your contest. That was good fun - I hope you get plenty of support so that the contest can continue. It's such an awesome idea, I hope it spreads!

I know you're not a "newbie", but your post, it's message, and your challenge is something everyone should see :) I'm 'bending' the rules here, but I'm sure everyone will understand!

Congratulations you have been resteemed as part of #newbieresteemday's top posts for the day! ...

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Thank you for bending the rules a little. Hope that this reaches more people.

I had to ;)

Congratulations @thedarkhorse, your post has been selected by the @asapers for a resteem and a feature in our brand new curation post. Issue 32

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We can take out a good learn from your blog.