Recently, I saw a great story on Facebook about a woman who worked in a meat distribution factory. At the end of one day she went into the meat freezer and the door closed behind her locking her in. She screamed and knocked, but no one heard her as most of the workers had left for the day. Several hours later, while she was close to death, the security guard opened the door and saved her life. Why did he check the freezer even though this wasn’t his usual routine? He said that he had worked at the factory for 35 years, and hundreds of workers came and went each day, but she was one of the few who would greet him in the morning and say goodbye to him every night before she left work. Many people treated him like he was invisible. That evening, he had not heard her say good-bye. Therefore, worried that something may have happened to her, he decided to check around the factory and thought to look in the freezer. Every day, he would look forward to her friendly greetings because they reminded him that he was someone. Because of her kindness to this gentleman, it literally saved her life.
Not long ago I was at work, and as I usually do, I always greet the janitorial staff and will talk to them. One morning, one of the ladies stopped me and thanked me for always greeting her so friendly. She had been having a bad morning and said my smile and greeting really made her feel better.
In college, I made friends with a girl and she later told me that before she met me, she was going to take her life. All I did was become her friend. I never knew until she told me years later.
Another time at work, an elder woman was having a really bad day so I gave her warm hug. As I walked away, she exclaimed, “I don’t even remember the last time someone hugged me!”
At one of the elementary schools I sometimes sub at, I stand at the door where several buses drop off the kids, and I greet them all with enthusiastic greetings. I also tell them they’re beautiful, smart, wonderful, and other positive affirmations. When I first started doing this, I hardly got any greetings in return. As time went on, I would get a few more. Then I would tell the kids, “This is where you say hello back to me!” More said hello. Then I just started rolling my arms and they knew that I was expecting a greeting in return and almost all of them would say good morning. I even get a few hugs! And for those who can’t say anything, that’s fine. How many of these children may have had a bad morning, have a rough home life, are ignored at school or elsewhere, or never have anything kind said to them at all? If I can touch just a few, and maybe even make a difference in their lives, then I’ve done my job.
I’ll even say random hello’s to people when I’m out shopping. Some people look shocked that anyone would say anything to them for no reason.
There are numerous stories on Facebook where people will walk around with signs that say ‘Free Hugs’ on them, and it is so heartwarming to see all the people give them hugs. People of all colors, races, religions, politics, genders, sexual preferences, and walks of life. It didn’t matter. Makes me bawl a river of tears every time I see these videos.
I think back on things people have said to me about my acts of kindness touching them, and I can only wonder what I did because all I was doing was being kind. I say this in all humility, too. There are many stories where simple acts of kindness have touched, changed, or even saved lives. We don’t always know when our acts of kindness may touch someone, but they do.
We shouldn’t be kind to expect anything in return. Smiles, kindness, and hugs, should be given freely. Of course, we need to be aware that some people don’t want to be hugged and that needs to be respected. We also cannot judge anyone if they don’t respond to us as we don’t know what’s happening in their lives.
Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Asop stated, “No act of kindness is ever wasted.” And Booker T. Washington declared, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” Be kind and touch a life.
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper April 15, 2016.