Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday's Meanderings: Random Acts of Kindness?

Saturday I was driving down the freeway, minding my own business, when up ahead I noticed a car waiting...and the on-ramp. I was in the right lane, no traffic at the moment behind me or in the left lane, but cars ahead of me wouldn't let this car onto the freeway. I never stop on the freeway to let a car come on, and I seldom slow down, either, because there's usually traffic behind me. But this time, something said...slow down and let the car on. I checked cars close behind me... so I slowed down just a bit and motioned for the driver to come ahead.

The driver was a woman, who waved cheerily at me as she came onto the freeway just ahead of my car. As we picked up speed, three kids in the back seat of her car all stuck their heads out of the back window... for a moment looking like those "bobble heads" you see on dashboards... and started blowing kisses to me. What a pleasant surprise! I laughed at them, and blew a kiss back.

Then her car picked up speed, as in about 15 miles above the 65 mph limit, and she abruptly turned into the left lane right in front of a big truck. She almost gave me a heart attack, because it was an 18-wheeler who had to brake for her. He probably sat uncomfortably in his britches for the next few miles!  It was then that I saw all three of those kids bobbing around in the back seat, and realized they did not have their seat belts on.  The mother did, I saw it. Why didn't they?

I could see her car up ahead...a bright yellow Taurus, kinda hard to miss... and could see her reeling in and out of traffic, from one lane to the other, until she finally disappeared from view...still going at about 80 to 85 mph. I couldn't stand it... I didn't want to read the next day about a woman and her three children being injured or dead in a car accident. I pulled over to the shoulder, stopped, and called 911. All I could give the dispatcher was the make, model, and color of her car, but also how fast she was going and that the children didn't have on seat belts. She sent it out to the CHPs.

The rest of the way home I was thinking about that car. I had slowed down on the freeway to let her get on... something that ordinarily I wouldn't have done, because it's not exactly safe driving. A "random act of kindness." That got me to thinking about "random acts of kindness."  We all do them. Most of the time, we do them without thinking about the act itself, so I guess that's why they are called "random."

I wonder, though, what effect that act, whatever it was, has upon the person who receives that little bit of kindness. Does it affect them in any way? Does it make them want to "pay it forward," or do they forget it as quickly as it was done?

My letting that car on the freeway was of no  importance as to how the woman was driving or why her children didn't have on seatbelts. She would still have eventually gotten on, and she would still have begun driving fast and erratically. But I wonder if she gave any thought at all to having someone actively "allow" her on the freeway? I wonder if she considered it an act of kindness, or... did she simply consider it her "due" because she needed to get on, therefore I "should" have slowed down for her? If I had not slowed down, would sitting there a few moments longer have had any impact on her driving? I seriously doubt it.

Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about the concept of 'random acts of kindness.' How often do you commit this kind of random act? Are you aware at the time that you are doing something for someone else, or is it just a passing thought that doesn't have any real meaning for you, but at the moment you hope it will help someone else? How many times are the acts of kindness you pass along to someone really "random," and how many times are they deliberate? Either way, do you ever think about the effect that act might have upon the person receiving it? Will it always be good... or could that act possibly lead, at times, to something more evil than good?

Think about it. Let me know.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.


  1. I try to do random acts of kindness as much as possible. I like you, rarely let people in on the freeway but if there isn't a ton of traffic behind me and I'm not in a hurry, I have been known to do it from time to time. However, it irritates the heck out of me when not only is someone letting one person in ahead of them, but two or three other cars. Now THAT drives me nuts.

    Anyway, I have done a random act of kindness that does make me wonder if I've helped the person or done more damage. And that is when I have given someone standing on the side of the road begging, money. But trust me, they have to look like they REALLY need the money and probably can't work for it. I don't do it often but when I do, I always wonder if I've just helped them get food in their stomach, or alcohol/drugs instead.

    But nonetheless, I have to feel good about myself and helping people when I can, does that for me. I can't control what those people do with my random act of kindness though. Just like you couldn't control what that "crazy" driver did.

  2. Mikki-

    What a post!

    I found myself in utter amazement reading it - for a very particular reason. On Monday, I gave all the money in my wallet to a man who had a "will work for food" sign. Something I don't do often, because it's not something seen often in my town.

    I wondered for a few moments whether or not he would actually spend the money on food (Ok - all the money in my wallet = $7) or something else. Then, I decided, it didn't matter.

    I didn't blog about it either. I did my act, and it's out of my hands now. I feel good about it, as though God told me that was the right thing to do.

    If he did take the money and use it for something bad, he will have to answer to a higher authority. As for me, I slept well.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Thanks, ladies, I appreciate your comments. Brings to mind another story: I passed a man with a beautiful dog on a street corner, sign saying "anything will help." For some reason, I stopped, went back and gave him $20. I dont' ordinarily do that. Got home, and told my husband about him, and said, "we've got that extra 20# bag of dog food that we got for free, why not give it to the man for his dog?" I took the bag and wernt back to the corner, a few miles from where we live. Got out, and pulled the bag out. He accepted it, but then said, "I don't know if she will eat it or not, she's pretty picky." It was one of the high-priced and very good brands, Science Diet. But she might not like it? I guess if she got hungry enough...since her owner was BEGGING...she would eat it just fine!

    Made me wonder just what my 20 bucks earlier had bought this guy, and just how hungry his dog really was!