Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Story of Kindness



On facebook, a friend of mine named Christopher Golden posted about a very negative event that happened to a veteran in a wheelchair and invited everyone to post about an act of kindness in response. I thought it was a great idea, so here is mine.

I was twenty-four, in graduate school, living on 500 dollars a month. I’d hitched a ride to Dallas, Texas for a society for neuroscience conference where I was presenting a poster, and was staying at the cheapest place I could find on the outskirts of town. I took the bus in every day to convention center.

One night I was eating at Shoney’s next door to my motel. I had about eleven dollars in my wallet and was glad we were going back home the next day. A fellow came in who was trying to sell his paintings and was asking twenty dollars for them. They weren’t very good but if I’d had the money I would have bought one anyway. As it was, when he came up and asked me to buy one I had to tell him, “I’m sorry, man. I’ve barely got enough to cover my supper here tonight.”

The fellow left and I didn’t think anything more about it until I was getting ready to leave and asked the waitress for the check. She told me that it had “been taken care of.”  When I asked “by who,” she reluctantly pointed to a nearby table where an older gentleman sat with his family. I didn’t really know what to say to the waitress but I went over to the table and told them “thanks,” but that I could have paid for my meal. The man responded with, “Well, I heard you say you had barely enough to cover your supper and I’ve been there myself.” 

I thanked him again and went on. I’ve never forgotten it, though. Sometimes humans do nice things. It’s in us if we’ll just let it out.

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29 comments:

Snowbrush said...

Great story, Charles. It's about this time of year that people start paying for other people's purchases in supermarkets.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was an awesome thing for him to do. A little kindness goes a long way.

Keith said...

You can never pay that kind of thing back, but you can always pay it forward. Great story, Charles.

Oscar said...

Nice story, Charles. I used to eat free meals at religious meetings when I was down and out, but nothing else ever happened.

Cloudia said...

great idea, post, life story!


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Deka Black said...

That's... well. I don't know what to say. A kind story, without doubt. Maybe is i'm a bit cynical sometimes but..

You know what? Is easier to show no trust towards people. But is even more comfortable to think there's still good people out there.

Erik Donald France said...

Amen, brother. Good one. Now if only the artist had given you a free painting, too ~!

G. B. Miller said...

A very touching gesture by the older gentleman.

It's great to know that there's still some pockets of good in this world of bleech.

Charles Gramlich said...

Snowbrush, yes, people do some nice things this time of year.

Alex, indeed so.

Keith, that's what I've tried to do.

Oscar, I went home to mom's a lot when I needed food.

Cloudia, thanks.

Deka, it's hard to trust, but in certain positions you can trust and even if you get taken advantage of you've still given something good to someone.

Erik, he was probably trying to make money to buy his meal.

G.B., yes, always good to keep it in mind.

David J. West said...

You never know when something like this will happen.

I was on the day job with some mentally challenged folks (the guys I care for-not the guys I used to work with) and when we went out to lunch one Saturday a couple months back, we had a nice older gentleman pick up the tab for us.

We thanked him an awful lot, he sure treated the guys (and we caregivers) that day.

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., wonderful to hear!

laughingwolf said...

super tale, charles...

Snowbrush said...

A rather similar that I have is of being picked up while hitchhiking. I was somewhere west of Meridian (having left from Brookhaven) at the time and was bound for D.C. to visit my uncle. One fellow took me all the way to the D.C. belt-line, buying me a meal or two as we drove. I would have gotten by just fine without the generosity, but I sure did appreciate it. That kind of thing happened a lot when I hitch-hiked (in the '60s and '70s), and it's just a shame that there are those who make it too dangerous to feel really good about doing, at least after you've met a couple of scary ones.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, thankee.

Snowbrush, I both hitchhiked and picked up hitchhikers all the way into the 90s. I haven't in a while and it is certainly a bit more scary these days.

Ron Scheer said...

Pleased to know someone did a kindness for you. You never forget moments like that. They soften the heart while there is so much in the world working to harden it.

the walking man said...

I go to a coffee shop where you get a card and every 11th coffee is free. I just drink coffee with cream but the card s good for one of those foo foo drinks. I always just give the filled card away to whomever is in line ordering a mocha caramel latte or whatever...never expect much but a thank you back and always get that.

One day i came back inside from having a smoke and not only had my coffee been refilled for me (even had the right amount of cream in it) but there was a pack of unopened smokes siting on my lap top.

Still don't know who did that but it was cool. I've been rolling my own for about 2 years now, so a pack of tailor mades was a nice treat.

X. Dell said...

When most people take an honest look at their lives, they'll realize that they have a lot to pay forward.

X. Dell said...
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Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, you are so right. I try to think of that when I hear of something awful that humans have done.

Mark, nice to hear such things, man. We often forget how kind people CAN be.

X. Dell, aye, tis true.

eric1313 said...

That's why we don't close up and shut out the rest of humanity, even after watching something as negative as the nightly news.

When I was in Hot Springs, I survived and thrived because two borthers from California who worked with me insisted I moved out of my heatless cabin near Mountain Springs (made famous by their bottled springwater) and into their 3k sq ft home on Lake Catherine, where I commenced to trimming all the Oaks and Hickories on their three acres to pay my first ten weeks of rent. They had asked me repeatedly why I wanted to live in what they referred to as a "kaczynski cabin", where it seemed I was sick every time I came into work (which I was, it was cold that winter). When I asked Joey (the more affable of the bros) why they insisted I move in after repeatedly declining their offer, he said because I was actually just waiting to get rolled by the some of the nastier locals, and they didn't want to hear anything like that happened, ever. As I stayed down there for another year and a half, I would eventually come to see what they meant about some of the locals.

I commenced to canoe on the lake three times a week. Things were crazy at the house too, but at least it was a semi controlled insanity. I later heard that my cabin in the hills did get broken into, after the next person to move in had brought in all of their belongings and before he could even unbox them all.

The gentlemen said it could have been worse. I certainly guess so.

But anyway, the kindness and good will of strangers has often been the most surprising thing at times.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, thanks for sharing this beautiful anecdote. A lot of people do acts of kindness because they have been there at some point in their life, just as the charitable gentleman told you. We have ample opportunities to do small acts of charity every single day. But it's important that we seize those opportunities the moment we see them.

The Golden Eagle said...

That's an excellent story!

Charles Gramlich said...

eric1313, I wonder sometimes how the fear mongers among our newspeople can live with themselves for the hate and fear that they preach and how they make our world a little less good of a place to live.

Prashant, I certainly try to do so but I know I miss opportunities, often probably because I'm so focused on my own issues and problems. Most everyone needs a hand now and then.

Golden Eagle, Yes, I think so.

pattinase (abbott) said...

An anonymous act of kindness is the best kind.

Travis Cody said...

Great story. I had something similar happen to me when I was young, counting every penny, and living on mac & cheese, peanut butter, and spaghettios. It happened at a grocery check out. I came up short and had to put back some items. The checker put them in my bag anyway and sent me on my way.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, indeed they are. For the giver certainly.

Travis Cody, very nice. Sometimes I really like people.

Lana Gramlich said...

That's awesome, baby. :)

jodi said...

Charles-What a sweet act of random kindness. Once when I was a broke, single mother, my family chipped in on a airline ticket and spending money for a vacation. I'll never forget that! I plan to give some of my airmiles to a friend in a similar position, so she can have a little vay cay! What goes around certainly can come around!

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, yes you are.

Jodi, tis true. One of the good things about the human race.