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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Helping Quietly

     We docked this morning in the beautiful Italian port city of Sorrento.  After taking a “tender” (small boat) from our ship to the actual pier, we boarded a bus for the ancient ruins of Pompeii.  I found a couple of opportunities to be kind along the way.
     Pompeii is a pretty amazing place with large portions of the town still intact after 2000 years.  The streets are mostly cobblestone, which can be a little difficult to walk on at times.  There was one woman in our group who has some physical challenges that made navigating some of the streets somewhat difficult.  Several times I provided a hand to assist her in getting up or down some of the higher curbs or steps.
     After Pompeii we drove back to Sorrento and then got on a shuttle bus to take us back down to the pier.  Since it’s such a short ride, the bus doesn’t have very many seats and many people had to stand.  I was quick to give up my seat to an older woman so she could be more comfortable.  Immediately afterward, I saw several men offer to do the same for other people.  Some acts of kindness are as much about courtesy as anything else.
     One of the things I’ve noticed about offering someone a helping hand, is that there’s a fine line between giving help and making someone feel uncomfortable or incapable because they needed help.  It requires a certain sensitivity to what they may be feeling.  Sometimes it can even more kind not to help them if this allows them to more readily maintain their dignity.  I’ve tried to stay sensitive to this recognition in two ways.  First, I try to offer my help in a quiet, unobtrusive way that doesn’t call for attention.  Second, if someone I offer help to declines that assistance, I respect their desire for self-sufficiency and I don’t push the issue further by insisting they let me help.

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