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.