Kindness Is Something You Just Run With

, , , , , | Hopeless | May 10, 2018

(My school’s PE classes are a joke. To get us moving, my mom signs us up for the county track and field team. Anyone under 18 can participate, with events divided up by age. One day, my older sister and I are off training for our field events, but most of the team is training for long-distance running. My mom is watching the runners from the stands, keeping an eye on the youngest of our siblings. The teens finish first, of course. Then the pre-teens. Then the rugrats — eight and under — start trailing in. One of the teenage boys looks over and notices my little brother still has nearly a full lap to go, and is crying his tiny eyes out. He is three-quarters of a lap behind the next kid, and absolutely devastated to be so far behind.)

Teen #1: “[Brother] is in trouble!”

(All the teenage boys get up from their cool-down stretches, and dash over to my brother, pacing him for the rest of his lap.)

Teen #2: “Come on, [Brother]! You can do this.”

Teen #3: “1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4! You-can-do-this!”

(They all took up the chant, running in perfect time with his tiny, four-year-old legs. He stopped crying, and started to speed up a little, finally crossing the finish line. The moment he stepped across it, they swept him off his feet, carried him on their shoulders, and ran a victory lap, cheering and shouting his name. My mom sobbed, unashamedly. Not only did they know this little kid’s name, but then they did all that to encourage him, and keep him from quitting. My little brother has since become a fantastic runner. When he was 12, he started running more than ten miles to church for youth group, just for fun. We’re all very glad he never gave up.)

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The World Stops To Help A Little Old Lady

, , , , , | Hopeless | June 1, 2017

To give a little background: at the county seat, the buildings housing several human service agencies are on one side of the main street. The courthouse, the health department, and the government center with all the county services are on the other side. The street is four lanes wide, very busy, and the nearest traffic light is three blocks away. People either walk down to the light and back up again, or take their chances with the pedestrian crosswalk that the city installed between the two campuses.

One morning I am just getting out of my car when I see a rather frail, elderly woman on the other side of the street by the human services buildings. This is the rural Midwest, and people are usually pretty polite, but she hesitates to step out into traffic and no wonder, as cars whip past.

Before I can do anything, a teenager in a fast food uniform comes out of the courthouse parking garage and runs across the street. He offers her his arm, holds up his hand to stop traffic, and escorts her over to the other side.

Kudos to him, and kudos to the drivers who stopped and patiently let a little old lady walk veeerrryyy slowly across four lanes of traffic during morning rush hour without anyone honking their horn or cursing.

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The Most Important Life Lessons, Part 2

, | Learning | March 11, 2017

I told my students that I hadn’t finished planning the rest of their unit because my mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital, but that I was doing my best to keep them on track.

Two days later, 15 or so kids stop in at break with cards, homemade treats, poems (!), and drawings of encouragement. I burst into tears. Their kindness made it possible for me to get through a tough week.


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Down But Not Out

, , | Hopeless | November 23, 2016

(In primary and middle school, one of my classmates was a girl with Downs syndrome. When we started junior high she transferred to a school for students with special needs, and although we would see her around town every now and then, we haven’t really interacted much with her since then. She had some problems with communication and social interaction when we first started school, and it was believed that she would stay with her parents most of her life. We’re now in our 20s, and she has a job at the bakery my dad uses. He tells us about this interaction:)

Former Classmate: *to her coworkers, when she sees my dad walk up to the counter* “I’ll take this one. That’s [My Name]’s dad and I know him. I’m gonna serve him.”

(It’s not a lot, but just knowing that she still remembers not only me, but also my dad, after almost ten years, is really great. She always has a smile on her face, and everyone loves her. She has her own apartment and gets around town mostly on her own, and we’re all very proud of her.)

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Good People Meet Good People

, , | Hopeless | November 3, 2016

(This had been a really bad week where most of our customers, even the regulars, were absolutely terrible. We have been yelled at numerous times and basically been treated like we aren’t good enough for basic human respect. One of our elderly regulars came in. My coworker of the day and I are the two youngest people at our store and we help her pick out some gifts.)

Me: “All right, your total is $[total].”

Customer: “Okay, and thank you so much. My grandkids will love these. They’re such good kids and you don’t always find that with young people. Just like you two. You’re both wonderful and I’m always glad to have your help.”

(We thanked her and her kind words helped us get through the rest of the day.)

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