A few months ago while I was heading up the stairs to the train platform, I saw an older adult struggling with a small suitcase. The stairs up to train platforms here in Chicago can be laborious, especially if you have anything in tow.
I caught up to her and said, “I’ll help you,” and carried the suitcase up the stairs.
Once we reached the top she gave me the biggest smile and said, “Thank you, happy day!” I smiled and said, “Happy Day to you too!”
I felt great and I’m sure she appreciated the little bit of assistance offered by a stranger. But what happened next was such a profound thing for me personally. When I got on the train I let my mind wander, and I thought to myself, What is it that I’m supposed to be doing, anyway? You know, big picture stuff.
The answer literally popped into my head as quickly as I asked the question: “You’re doing it.” And I knew what that meant. Helping others is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Well, fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when I was at the grocery store meandering my way through the produce section. I looked at the gentleman in front of me. He was using a cane and seemed to be struggling in making his way around the displays of fruits and vegetables.
“Hi sir,” I said. “Can I help you find something?”
“Yes, can you tell me where the strawberries are? I think they’ve moved.”
The man had very low-vision, and my volunteering with blind and low-vision folks sprung into action.
“The store has moved everything around,” I said. “I’ll help you find the strawberries.”
The man thanked me, and I helped him find the strawberries (and a couple of other items). As I described the strawberry brands to the man, a fellow speaking VERY loudly into his cell phone was close by. It really irritated me (as it always does when I hear someone having a personal conversation for all to hear).
Once the gentleman had his produce, I made sure he didn’t need anything else, and then continued with my shopping. Wouldn’t you know it, the loud cell phone guy approached me.
“Is he going to be okay walking around the store?” he asked me.
“Yes, I think he’ll be fine once he gets used to the new layout,” was my reply.
The man then said, “I was helping him about 5 minutes before you were. It was a very nice thing you did.”
A bit stunned by his comment I said, “Thank you, and the same to you for helping him.”
Once again I went about my shopping when the cell phone guy approached me yet again.
“Do you ever wonder what we are supposed to be doing?” I could feel my heart racing, recognizing those words from the day I helped the woman with her suitcase.
“Yes,” I managed to say, “I do.”
What he said next will be one of the greatest Universal signs I have ever received thus far: “You’re doing it, and helping that man shows it.”
I nodded and said, “Yes, you are right; thank you.”
There is a saying about being careful that you treat everyone with kindness, for arch-thieves and scoundrels might just be our teachers in disguise. And in this case, a VERY loud cell-phone guy in the produce section of a grocery store.
Keep the kindness going. It’s what we are supposed to do.