The Kindness of Strangers

Jodi Shenal's avatar

by Jodi Shenal

In today’s world, an act of kindness is appreciated now more than ever.

As a special needs parent, I have experienced the goodness of strangers in ways that have helped strengthen my faith in humanity. 

You never truly know what a person is struggling with or what is going on in their life. 

No matter how small a gesture may be, it can go a long way and affect a person’s day in very big ways. 

Once after my daughter’s physical therapy session, we pulled into a fast food restaurant for a treat.  My twelve year old son was with us and he was eager to enjoy his favorite ice cream and chicken nuggets. 

As we got out of the car, I popped the trunk to get my daughter’s wheelchair out; he opened her car door and then immediately came to my aid. 

As I lugged the bulky, heavy seat and frame out of the car, he helped me put the chair together.  After I lifted her out of the car seat and placed her in her chair, he helped me get her safely buckled in. 

As he always does, he ran ahead of me and opened the door to the restaurant and held it open for me to get her inside.

After I ordered our snacks I heard a voice beside me say “This is on me.” 

I was surprised and confused when the lady in line beside me looked at me with a bright smile on her face. 

As this complete stranger explained to how she had watched my son being so helpful to me and to his little sister in the parking lot, tears ran down her cheeks, and then mine.

She went on to tell my son that she was super proud of him for being such a great big brother, and he thanked her with a very polite handshake. 

I asked her if I could repay her for her kindness and she told me that I already had.  She would only accept our hugs, smiles and handshakes. 

She proceeded to tell me that she had received blessings in her life from others, and it was her pleasure to do something for us.

Since that day, her kindness has remained with me. 

There have been moments since where it’s made my heart happy to pay for another person’s toll at the toll booth or purchase the coffee of a stranger behind me in line at Starbucks.  

Even offering a kind word or a smile can make such an impact. 

It may not be much, but can you imagine what our world would be like if we ALL extended some courtesy to strangers, from time to time? 

I am grateful to the lady we met in the restaurant that day, for acknowledging my son’s manners and helpfulness, for acknowledging our struggle, and for showing us how sharing a bit of good will can transform someone’s day, for the better.

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