Phragments from Phyllis: Random acts of kindness, great and small
Random Acts of Kindness has taken on an interesting new meaning in town, thanks to the efforts of First Baptist Church, North Augusta. (See related story, page 2B.)
But this past week has been a lesson in hope for the basic kindness of others in a world where it becomes easier and easier to be unkind.
First, I was the subject of someone's own Random Act of Kindness last Friday. I was waiting in line at Kroger to get gas. (I go there when I'm pretty sure I've bought enough groceries during the month to warrant additional cents off with my Kroger card.) I was in line largely because about half of the pumps were empty, which was cause for consternation of a number of folks wishing to get gas - so tempers were short as we all waited.
The young man (I'd say late 20s) in front of me got gas and when he was finished, he tapped on my window and said, "Would you like 20 cents off per gallon? I'm going to scan my Kroger card before I leave." Before I could respond or say thank-you, he was back in his car and driving away. I waved and tried to say thank-you from my open window, but I have no idea if he heard me or not. I figured if he scanned his card, I didn't need to scan mine, and sure enough, he had. In fact, it came out to 25 cents off per gallon. All I can do is say I think the license plate was something like GQG 164.
I was, to say the least, nonplussed.
Then Saturday night Tom and I went to dinner, eating outside at one of our favorite spots. These days, with the laws as they now are, the only place you can smoke in most restaurants is the outdoor space. We have learned that if we want to enjoy dining al fresco that we often have to suffer the second-hand smoke of those others dining with us. So I was again taken somewhat aback when one group stopped by and actually asked, "Would it bother you if we smoked right here," pointing to the table next to us. Tom, who is particularly sensitive to cigarette smoke, said, "We'd really rather you didn't, if you don't mind." And amazingly, they moved as far away from us as they could get in the outdoor spot before they lit up. I was pleasantly surprised. Then about 30 minutes later, a lone diner came out and again asked about the same spot. By this time there were several diners on the other side of the patio, and I don't know if he had asked them first, but when Tom gave the same answer as before, the young man said, "OK, no problem." He sat down at the table next to us and did not smoke. I was, well, again nonplussed. No one has ever bothered to ask before, and to have two parties in one night must be some kind of record.
There is, I think, hope for the future.
Basic human civility is not totally lost.