Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Have you ever had a great conversation with a complete stranger?    A conversation that ends with neither of you ever exchanging first names?   You exchanged information back and forth without ever stopping to properly introduce yourself, and yet you still shared personal information to each other?

These exchanges happen to me more frequently than the average person and always in a public setting.   Whether I am standing in line at a grocery store, have a chatty waitress, or getting my hair cut at the salon.   I converse with strangers almost daily and my most lengthy conversations with strangers always occur when I am flying.

Yes flying.  I have never been the type that acts like I am mean so the person sitting next to me won't talk.   Nor am I the one that immediately plugs in the headphones and "act" like I am sleeping.   No, instead I just sit patiently waiting to see who will end up in the seat sitting next to me and wait to at least say hello to the person.   More often than not, I have had some lovely conversations with complete strangers whom I rarely ever get the chance of finding out their name.   I am not really sure why I seem to make conversation with strangers in all sorts of places, but I enjoy it.

On Sunday night I was flying back from Boston after a long weekend exploring the town while visiting my cousin.   After a long weekend of little sleep, I was excited and looking forward to catching up on some shut-eye during my flight home.    Wrong.   I ended up not getting a single minute of sleep my entire flight.   Instead I had a blast talking with a girl much like myself who lives in Chicago and works downtown like me. 

We immediately started talking because I commented on the book she was holding when she sat down as an attempt to just say hello.   She was in the process of reading Water for Elephants, a book I have been meaning to read myself for quite some time.   Within a minute of my comment, she asked me if I wanted her book.   I was shocked, the girl was barely in her seat and already offered me her book.   From that small act of kindness, we ended up spending the entire flight talking.   We talked about everything: from weddings, to careers, to interests, books, food, you name it.   I now know her life story and she knows mine.

Time flew by and before we knew it, our plane was descending towards the ground.   She ended up giving me her copy of the book, because she had a copy at home waiting for her and didn't have any reason for keeping two copies of the same book.   I graciously took the copy and have it sitting on my nightstand now, patiently waiting for me to start reading it.

However, I am sad that she and I did not have the chance to exchange information.   She was a lovely woman and I wish I could send her a thank you message again for the book.    We sadly got separated as we were grabbing our luggage, and all I was left with was her book and no real goodbye.

This was the second time I had ever received a gift from a complete stranger on a plane.   The only other time (that I can remember at least) was last Spring when I flew to Arizona next to a Canadian woman.   She and I bonded on our long flight.   By the end of our flight, she gave me Canadian coins because she wanted them to inspire me to plan my trips to Quebec, since that is where she was from.   It was heart-warming and something I would never forgot.   She told me to never lose sight of my dreams and to make a point of seeing as much of the world as I possibly can. 

Isn't it interesting how much a random act of kindness can really do to someone?    That in the end, life is really all about exchanges we have with others.    Whether it is opening the door for someone, saying good morning to a stranger, or conversing with a complete stranger even though you would rather be doing something else.    Sometimes I think the world needs more of these sort of acts.   I never thought I would get coins or a book as gifts from complete strangers on a plane, but I have and I am grateful.    Their small acts of kindness inspires me to want to do them for others.    It is almost like "pay-it-forward."   If we all took a moment each day to do one small random act of kindness, imagine what kind of place this world would be like. 

So my questions to you.   When was the last time you did a random act of kindness?   How did it make you feel?   Do you remember the last time someone random did something nice for you?  

1 comment:

  1. Love this post, that was so nice of that lady gave you the book. I've met a couple incredibly nice people while flying and still remain to be friends till this day. Sometimes you just never know who you will run into as well, I remembered on my flight to LA a couple of years ago, i ran into this guy who works for a well-known computer company and was kind enough to forward me some openings from his company. Little act like that really makes the difference. After reading this post, I should practice my random kindness...