To the Man Who Opened the Door for Us – When He Didn’t Have To Friday, November 20th, 2015
When the sun came up this morning, I was awake to see it… not because I’m an early riser, but because I had been up all night with my sick little boy. There is this tummy thing being passed around our small town, and I guess it found its way to the Thompson house. It had been a long night for me and my oldest, but when my four year old and one year old got up at their usual time this morning, they were greeting the day after a full night of sleep unlike their brother and me.
It didn’t matter how exhausted I was, the day continued on as usual undeterred by my lack of sleep. So, I did my best to keep up with it. I let the teacher know that my son would be absent from school. I got the baby his morning milk. I made my daughter her breakfast and helped her dress herself for school. I stripped my son’s bed and washed his sheets. I did the dishes. I made plans for dinner. And life went on.
I did my very best to keep everyone reasonably happy and the house reasonably tidy and everything moving along reasonably smooth… until this evening… well, until about 4 o’clock.
My son, who had been feeling fine up until this point, started to feel just sick enough to complain about how poorly he felt. My four year old, who had been entertaining herself while I cared for her brother, was bored and desperate for some attention, and the baby, who had been woken up early from his nap by siblings who happened to be home instead of at school, was tired and fussy. That’s when I remembered I had to pick up a package from the post office for my husband, and I needed to mail another package as well… fifteen minutes before the post office closed for the weekend.
So with three small children who really did not want to do anything other than lay around, we loaded up and rushed to the post office. I was already wondering how I was going to manage the large package while also carrying my future football playing one year old on my hip when I opened the passenger seat door and tried to figure it out.
I wedged the box between my chin and my chest, holding it with one arm, the baby with the other, and I used my foot to close the car door.
That’s when I saw him. He had a few white envelopes in his hand and was walking down the sidewalk toward the post office heading to the outside mailbox. But I guess he had heard us… or seen us. We probably looked like quite the sideshow.
I look exhausted and unshowered, my son is dressed in his sleep clothes, I forgot to put shoes on the baby, and here we are at ten minutes to close stumbling towards the door.
But for some reason, instead of stopping at the outside mailbox, he turned and kept walking. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t offer any advice or any commentary. He just walked up to the door and said, “Let me get that for you,” opening the first door, and then the next making sure we all got inside.
I told my children to look the nice man in the eye and tell him thank you, and then I made sure to the do the same.
But the truth is, I wanted to cry, because kindness isn’t as common as it used to be.
There have been plenty of times when I have been out with my children, and desperate for two extra hands. When I have been in line at the grocery store checkout with a screaming baby and a cart full of items knowing that people see me, wondering if they really… see me… and thinking if only someone could help me.
This guy could have kept going about his day. He could have said to himself, “It’s her fault for having more kids than she can handle.” “Why couldn’t she come without her kids?” “Who brings their kids out on a cold day without shoes?” “She doesn’t look like she can manage any part of her life. I bet she’s always this much of a disaster.”
But he didn’t.
He just smiled, and walked the fifteen extra feet to help someone who looked like she needed it. And she did.
You know, we teach our children kindness by demonstrating it. We live it out. And then we look for every other kind moment around us and we point to it and say, “There. That is what we should do. That is the type of person we want to be. That is what matters in this world. That is what kindness in action looks like.” It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It doesn’t have to be planned. But it should never be overlooked.
So in a season of thankfulness… in a world that seems to grow darker by the day… I just wanted to stop and shine light on one simple moment. Because there are random acts of kindness, and then there are purposeful moments where we make the choice to be kind. Today, I want to say thank you to a stranger for making the choice… and for giving me another chance to teach my children that there is always the opportunity to be kind… if we just take the time to notice.