If you have the chance to make people happy, just do it.
Sometimes people are struggling silently. Maybe, your act of kindness can make their day.
I know this point resonates with all of us, and I had a particularly interesting encounter 3 months ago that made me pause and appreciate how a random stranger can transform your day.
Let me begin by setting the mood:
It was MRI day.
I hate MRI day.
I hate the days leading up to MRI day and I hate every minute after my MRI until I hear back from my doctor.
Well, every 3 months I go to UM and get a brain scan to make sure my meningioma hasn’t grown back. As MRI day approaches, I’m not the best version of myself and I’m usually in a state of silent panic – pissed off and nervous. The thing is, no one but my husband knows it because he’s the only one I really let in. Well, my parents probably know it too, because let’s face it, parents always know when something’s up.
Reinaldo always accompanies me to these scans because it lightens the mood, calms me, and part of him probably knows I wouldn’t go if he wasn’t there to literally push me out of the car. Usually, to sort of commemorate another MRI day in the books, we go to lunch somewhere fun in Miami. This particular day we didn’t. We picked up our son from baseball camp and went to Hooters… so Reinaldo could prove to me once and for all that the wings really are that good… ha.
Reinaldo and our son were chatting about baseball and I was silently eating my lunch, constantly refreshing my email, and not in the mood for light conversation. I was fixated on my salad and immersed in crouton poking, when a man at the bar started making conversation with us. I was mildly annoyed that I had to lift my head, make eye contact and turn on charm that I didn’t immediately possess. Not to mention my unfinished business with the croutons. It was probably my dooms day mood but he seemed too pleasant, too happy, and too nice. And my guard went up. Reinaldo’s too. Then the guy said he was an artist and started sketching something for us. Guard up again.
Smiling, I told my son to be gracious and thank him for the drawing. I just wanted to get home already. All the politeness was exhausting me. How could I bare polite conversation while I’m frantically checking my emails to see if I have another 3 months to live or not? I willed my body through the next few movements, consciously reminding myself to smile and look happy.
Ask for the bill.
Force a smile.
Thank him again.
Walk to car.
When I made it to the car I needed a distraction so I asked to see the sketch. It was pretty cool so we looked him up. What do you know, he’s a legit artist: Greg Pitts. His focus is on painting, mixed media, and recycled works of art. But why would he be so nice to us, random strangers, at Hooters, and draw a sketch for us?
I keep reading. He’s a war vet. A photographer. A philanthropist. Honestly, he’s pretty impressive. We had fun in the car reading about him, looking at his work and laughing about the encounter and how random it was. Oh, and I hadn’t checked my inbox since the croutons.
When we got home, I stood in the garage and thought about how nice it was for him to be so nice to complete strangers, and go out of his way like he did. I ran inside and told Reinaldo I was going to the frame store to have it framed for our son’s room. "Now?!," he said. Yes, now. Right this minute. But, before I ran back to the car, I paused, looked at my son and said, there’s an important lesson here.
Even though it’s still never okay to talk to strangers or accept gifts from them, if you are with mama and papa and we say its okay, then its okay. But also, always remember that you really never know what kind of person someone is just by a short encounter, so always be kind to everyone you meet. Smile. Be gracious. Be kind.
And really, Greg Pitts had done just that. While I had tried to be gracious and kind despite my awful mood, it came so naturally to him. He couldn’t know that it was MRI day, but he was kind anyway because that’s obviously who he is. And an hour after meeting him I was smiling in a frame store, picking out backing for the sketch, and planning where to hang it – not thinking at all about my inbox. One simple act of kindness can be transformative.