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

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Trashman Cometh

     As I was driving back to my hotel in the Buckhead section of Atlanta this morning, having just had breakfast with a good friend, I noticed a curious sight.  There was a woman with a plastic garbage bag trying to pick up a ton of garbage - mostly papers - that was strewn along a stretch of perhaps 200 yards in front of a condominium complex.  It appeared that the papers must have somehow come out of someone's garbage or perhaps a garbage truck.  As I drove past, I thought that maybe I should stop and help, but I was beyond the spot so quickly that it seemed to be too late.  I went another half-mile or so, thinking about the situation, and decided I should turn around and go back to help.  So I found a place to turn around, went back to the complex, and found a place to park.
     I walked out to where the woman was working and asked if she had another garbage bag.  She explained that "they" were supposed to be sending a few more people with additional garbage bags to help, but that her office hadn't come through yet.  I had the sense that she may have worked for the company that ran the condo association.  It seems that some bags of trash may have fallen off a truck, and most of it involved some legal papers, so it was pretty important to get them collected.
     I began picking up papers and before long, the woman and I had gotten it pretty much taken care of.  I introduced myself and learned that her name was Elizabeth.  She was very appreciative of my help, and I think she thought I was one of the residents of the complex.  I never did tell her that I was just a complete stranger driving by and figured I could help.
    As I got back in my car and resumed my trip back to the hotel, I noticed how good I felt from having responded to a need I saw rather than simply noticing it and driving by.  There really is something to the notion that there's an intrinsic high we get from helping others.  And I love these types of quiet, anonymous ones.  Elizabeth will never know who I am, or even why I stopped to help, and none of the residents of the complex will ever know either.  But I know I put a little extra kindness into the world this morning; and how cool would it be if we all capitalized on these opportunities as we see them?

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