Mike McGough
December 2020

Kindness is always welcome, but sometimes it’s just so special that it makes you want to go out and do something kind in return.  You’re immediately left with the feeling that you need to pay it forward.   Kindnesses such as these generally come wrapped in a genuineness, a pure goodness, a sense of sincere purpose that is unmistakable, and with absolutely no expectation whatsoever of anything in return.  They are just authentic and pure acts of kindness!

Because of the public health crisis, he limited his trips to the store and to complete other errands to once or twice a week.  As the public emergency continued, he noticed that the level of angry, vitriolic, heartless, and selfish behavior grew.   He told a friend at one point, “Another benefit to the masks is that at least some of the anger on some of the faces is covered.”

The previous day he witnessed a great deal of irritation and aggravation as he made one of his trips to complete some routine errands.  Part of what he saw was an unkind and confrontational encounter at the post office, an anger-filled clash at a store over a particular brand of tea that was out of stock, and a screaming match in a parking lot between casual, yet anger-filled, representations of the polar extremes of the current political climate.  When he got home, he was happy to be there.  He decided that for the next few days he would shelter in place, as much to avoid the anger and frustration as to avoid the Covid-19 virus.  

The next day was a great one.  It started out good and it continued so all day.  As it was winding down, it got even better. There was a good bit of outside work that needed to be done, and he got after it all day.  As the sun went down, so did his energy level.  He was ready for dinner and a little rest.  

He had already gone in the house to take a much-needed shower and get ready for dinner.  Then he heard the driveway indicator chime.  He thought it was a bit late for a delivery from any of the commercial delivery services.  When he went back outside, his wife was talking with some of the neighborhood children.  

He headed back into the house to get his money clip. He assumed they were selling something to raise money for their school, a team, or a club.  He thought it was important to support the kids, remembering kindly how neighbors had always supported his kids, when they werethat age.  However, when he went back out, he quickly learned these kids were not selling a thing.  They weren’t looking for support.  Instead, they were there to give something and to provide some very kind support.  

The unmistakable aroma of freshly-baked snickerdoodles was evident in the garage.  The smell caught his attention immediately.  He had only had a snack for lunch, so he was hungry. The kids had a basket of cookies neatly organized into individual baggies for easy distribution.  They were still warm.  

This was a happy bunch of kids.  It was obvious they were friends.  They were enjoying being together.  When they offered their cookies, it was clear that they were happy to be giving them.  So, in addition to snickerdoodles, they provided smiles, kinds words, and a very real lesson in human kindness. As retired teachers this act of kindness brought back a flood of pleasant memories for he and his wife.  As he often said, “Teachers may retire from the classroom, but the classroom never really retires from teachers.”  

Since the kids, and he and his wife were in no hurry, an enjoyable conversation ensued.  Some old cars in his garage caught their attention; they wanted to know more about them.  Not unlike the warm cookies, their interest was also a gift.  Their curiosity aboutsomething other than themselves was refreshing.  Their attention, their comments, and their questions were welcome.  For the moment, both he and his wife were teachers again.  It was nice!

When they left, he and his wife agreed that their visit was really nice.  They concluded that in the midst of a public health crisis, with a host of political and social ramifications that were too numerous to count, an act of simple kindness was a blessing.  It was all the more appreciated because it was a pleasant interlude from the news stories of the day and a level of public frustration that seemed to bubble over a bit more each day.

These kids provided an example we would all do well to follow.  There’s too much anger in the world.  What we need is a few more snickerdoodles and a lot more kindness!