Friday, September 7, 2012
A Hot Start to School
This week, public schools opened in our town, just as it did in many parts of the country. And lest we think the summer is really over, students and teachers were greeted with high temperatures and even higher humidity. In fact, the thermometer in my car read 90 degrees today. Given the heat, I decided that today might be a good day to take care of some of the school crossing guards who help to keep the children in our town safe as they walk or ride their bikes to and from school.
Around 3:15 this afternoon, when I knew the elementary schools would be letting out, I grabbed 4 bottles of water from our refrigerator and hit the road. I first went to a particular corner where I've seen a crossing guard before and parked across the street. Taking one of the bottles, I approached a woman as she waited for the children to come, and I offered it to her. She was predictably surprised, but thankful and she told me she was expecting an onslaught of kids in about 5 minutes. Off I went to find the next recipient.
I drove across town to a busy street where I figured there would likely be a crossing guard and, sure enough, I found her. She had just finished crossing 2 children when I approached her with the water. She was so thrilled and told me that she had forgotten her water bottle today. She said it was "so kind" of me. As I was about to get back into my car, she asked, "What made you think of doing this?" I replied that I simply wanted to do something nice.
Back on the road, I went to another corner where I knew there would be a guard. I approached a smiling older woman and offered her my next bottle of cold water. She was so thankful as she looked pretty warm. When I noticed that she had what appeared to be a granddaughter with her, I asked the child if she also would like some water. She nodded, and I gave her my fourth and final bottle.
You may remember that, in the winter, I did a similar thing for crossing guards, only that time it was with cups of hot chocolate. They were just as surprised this time, and just as appreciative. Who knows what they'll tell their families and friends when they get home tonight about the stranger who showed up to give them cold water!
It's fascinating to observe how people try to process an unexpected kindness. In some respects, it's as if they don't know how to explain it or to understand it. Like the woman who asked me what made me think of it, they seem to be searching for a way to fit it into their view of how people normally are or how the world usually is. Things like this don't quite fit their model, and yet they certainly appreciate it. I'm not sure what to make of all that, but it's interesting to observe nonetheless.