Thursday, January 5, 2012
Hot Chocolate on a Cold Day
Today's act of kindness came to me while I was on my morning run, though I had to wait till the afternoon to execute it. Here's what happened:
It was a cold morning in NJ and the roads were actually covered with a coating of snow as I headed out for my run. Once I warmed up, I was cranking along at a pretty good pace when I came to a major intersection. I hated the thought of having to stop and wait around for an opening in the traffic. Just before I got there, an older gentleman, who was a school crossing guard, saw me and went out into the street to stop traffic for me! That got me thinking . . . there are so many crossing guards around town and they're stuck out there in all kinds of weather so that our kids can be safe getting back and forth to school. I should do something nice for them as a small gesture of thanks.
Just before the elementary schools let out for the afternoon, I stopped by our local 7-11 and bought 3 cups of hot chocolate to deliver to crossing guards. My first stop, of course, was to go back to the man who helped me out this morning. He was sitting in his pickup truck, trying to stay warm until the first kids came by, when I walked up from behind. He rolled down his window and I thanked him for his kindness this morning and offered him the hot chocolate. He was surprised, but really pleased and gladly accepted. As I got back into my car and then drove past him, he gave me a big smile and a "thumbs up."
Next I headed to Main Street where I knew there would be another crossing guard. I pulled my car to the curb, got out and approached an older woman standing on the corner with her "Stop" sign. When I asked if I could offer her some hot chocolate, she said "No. I don't want any." I told her I just wanted to thank her for her service to the children, but she still didn't want the hot chocolate. "Oh well," I thought, and headed undeterred for my next potential recipient.
Just a couple of blocks away I came upon another woman sitting in her car, reading a book while waiting for the kids to arrive. When I approached, she rolled down the window and looked at me quizzically. I explained that I wanted to offer her some hot chocolate and to thank her. She seemed quite surprised, but also quite pleased and gladly accepted. Her look made me think that she just might be telling that story to her family and friends tonight!
I still had one more hot chocolate to deliver so I headed to another street where I knew there would be a crossing guard. This time the guard was already standing on the corner as I parked my car along the curb. I got out and offered her the drink along with some words of thanks. She was happy to enjoy the drink and we talked for a minute or two about the challenges of being out there on some really nasty days. When I left in my car she raised the cup to me in appreciation and flashed a big smile.
It's fascinating to see the reactions people have to unexpected nice gestures. I suppose the fact that I look pretty friendly and harmless at least helps to disarm them a little. Still, they don't quite know what to make of it at first. I suspect that those who are willing to accept a kindness from a stranger, are probably much more inclined to assist another stranger as a result. If so, we can really be spreading something. If not, it's nice to do it anyway.