After the Bible Study on Wednesday evening I usually leave for Philadelphia – a trip that takes me close to 2 hours. While driving, I try to focus on various themes or on the lectures that I have to give the next day. Since in both classes that I taught last Thursday the students either took an exam or presented their research papers, I was more relaxed and I decided to pay attention to acts of kindness during the next 24 hours.
The first act of kindness I encountered was an act of politeness. I stopped to fill-up the gas tank and the attendant at the gas station thanked me for my business. In fact, whenever I am in that part of the county I stop at that gas station because I consider the attendants to be some of the most polite people that I have ever met at gas stations. Not one, but all of them are exceedingly polite no matter what time of the day or night one stops to buy gasoline.
Thursday morning I stopped to get my usual Danish and strong cup of coffee. The lady at the counter said to me: "I see this time you were able to find the milk." I was surprised and delighted by her comment. She remembered me! Two weeks ago I stopped by that coffee shop for the first time and did not see where the various kinds of milk were located. She remembered me! While I am the historian, I was so glad that this lady remembered me from two weeks ago.
During lunch hour there were a couple of meetings that I needed to attend and I forgot my wallet in my room. I either had to go to my room or I could see if the person at the lunch counter would give me a fruit platter and let me pay him later. The owner of the lunch counter said: "I can trust you professor. Go ahead, get your lunch!" I was so impressed with his kindness that I came down within the next 30 minutes to pay my debt.
During the evening discussion in the classroom, one student said: "Professor, I humbly disagree with you." I was so taken aback by the gentle introduction that I remarked: "What would have happened to your statement if you boldly disagreed with me!"
In a time when it is so easy to criticize and to see the negative, it is so good to be surprised and delighted by the good that people do. We can practice either. We can be rude or thankful to our customers. We can remember them or forget them immediately. We can trust them or mistrust them. We can approach them with gentleness, or we can prove that we are right and they are wrong. Many times each day we make choices – for good or evil; to make people smile or sad, to bless them or to curse them.
I hope that you are a blessing today and that you will act with kindness towards the people that you meet.