Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saying Thanks With Bagels

     This morning I made my periodic trip to Bruegger's in Philadelphia to pick up a couple of dozen of my favorite bagels.  I know it sounds crazy to go into the city just to get bagels, but they're the best around; so occasionally I go in and get a bunch and freeze them to enjoy over the coming weeks.  As I was driving over, I had two ideas in mind to use bagels for an act of kindness and figured I'd do whichever presented itself more readily.
     My first thought was to get an extra dozen or so and see if there were any homeless people lingering around to whom I could offer some fresh bagels.  As I approached Market Street, I scanned the area to locate any homeless people.  I didn't see any in the area as I parked, but I was determined to keep my eyes out for them.  After leaving Bruegger's with my bagels in hand, I continued to look around.  Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately from another perspective), I still didn't see any appropriate recipients.  I suppose I could have spent more time walking a few blocks further, but I did have a "Plan B" so I got back in my car and headed for my alternative site.
     My second option was to drop off the bagels to the local police department in our town as a small thanks for their tireless, and often thankless, service.  I figured anyone who had duty on Sunday was sacrificing family and personal time and could use a nice gesture of thanks.  I took a route past the police station on my way home and pulled into the mostly empty parking lot.
     When I walked up to the front door, I found that it was locked but there was a call button next to the door.  I rang it and was connected to a central dispatcher there who asked if I needed help.  I told him that I was at the station and wanted to drop off bagels to say thank you.  He sounded pleased and said he'd let someone know that I was outside the station.  After a few minutes of waiting, the door opened and an officer appeared.  I offered him the bagels with my thanks and he introduced himself, shook my hand, and said how much he appreciated it.  With that, I headed home, glad to have spread some more kindness.
     It occurs to me that the unexpected nature of these gestures makes them all the more impactful, and fun.  I'm sure the police officer had no idea that someone would drop off bagels today, just as the school crossing guards certainly had no clue that someone would give them hot chocolate the other day.  While some of cultivating a mindset of kindness is simply about being mindful of, and courteous to others, it's nonetheless fun to spread some unexpected goodwill around the area.

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