The power of a little kindness

Posted by Doc
May 02 2009

Today was a good day for reinforcement of what I believe and certain of my behaviors.  Serendipitously (there’s a word for you!), it all tied into what I’ve been reading and writing about.

Here’s the story: I’m in Atlanta, with a weekend to enjoy exploring and learning. I decided to go to the Atlanta History Center in lieu of a Segway tour, because of predictions of bad weather in the afternoon. I wandered in the museum, toured the Tullie Smith farm, and then toured the Swan House. As the tour of the Swan House was completing, the lovely guide said “If you’d like to see [the architect]’s collection, there’s a gallery downstairs and then you can let yourself out through the back door down there. Don’t worry, it will lock itself behind you.”

So I did.

As I walked away from the securely locked door, it started to rain.  Just a little bit at first, so I walked over to a nice big tree, with lovely branches and leaves for shelter. And the rain came down harder.

I saw a fellow in a white polo shirt dash by heading for the front of the house.

A little while later, an older woman with a pink umbrella and a little girl holding her hand came by, headed toward the back door.

“You can’t get in there,” I said.

She went and tried anyway. The little girl was crying and hunching and seeming miserable.

A couple of minutes later, they came back.  There was a door near me that said “Staff entrance” – it, too, was locked.

“The front door is just over that way,” I said. “I’ll walk over with you.”

You can’t imagine how grateful she was.  She thanked me several times.

I looked at the miserable little girl and said “What are you going to do?” I paused, she looked, and I said “I’m just going to drip!”

She smiled, giggled a little, and we kept going. The grandmother (that’s what she was) looked at me like I’d just started glowing with celestial radiance, and said “Thank you SO much!”

We walked to the front of Swan House, and found the little girl’s father. I kidded with her a little more, saw that the rain was letting up, and started to leave.

The woman thanked me three more times.

A few words of kindness, a simple act of kindness, and some distraction for a little girl of three or four years old. That’s all it took.

The cost to me was almost nothing. The value to that woman and child were huge.

Whether you’re working on influencing, or just being a part of someone’s life – for a minute or a lifetime – the little things make all the difference.

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