Random Act of Kindness: Little gestures add up to a lot worth appreciating

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Every Thursday, this paper reminds me why Pittsburgh is the most livable -- and lovable -- city by including letters describing the Random Acts of Kindness by strangers.

I, too, could write about the strangers who reach out to me by helping me lift Dad's wheelchair over an uncooperative curb, by giving me quarters as I stare helplessly at the expiring meter, and by holding open the library door when my arms are cradling books.

Although strangers consistently enrich my life with their giving, there is another group of individuals -- neither strangers nor acquaintances, neither friends nor family -- who also add sunshine to my day. I do not know what label to give these individuals, but I do know that I value them and the gift of happiness they bestow upon me.

My frequent trips to the local grocery store usually end in the same express checkout lane with the same cashier. She knows I buy a lot of milk and fruit, but she does not know that I teach and write, voraciously read, and care for -- and am cared by -- my 96-year-old father. Yet, this woman always manages to make me feel better by greeting me with a "Good to see you again" smile and sending me off with bagged groceries and a "Have a blessed day" wish.

Because my dad and I spend many days "staycationing" at Schenley Plaza, we have become familiar with the guard who always patrols near our table. Again, we know little about him beyond his name and his love for coffee, and he knows little about us beyond our penchant for reading and people watching.

However, this not-a-stranger-but-not-quite-a-friend makes sure no one takes our table or chairs when I wheel Dad to the restroom, stays with Dad when I walk down Forbes to buy lunch, and reminds us that he is there "just in case you need me."

To ensure that those in wheelchairs can access the first floor of books, the main branch of the library has a miniature elevator built for a Lilliputian population. Squeezing into the cage-like machine makes me cringe with claustrophobia.

However, the jokes and friendly chatter of the library worker who operates the open elevator eases my tension and fear. No matter how many times a month Dad and I visit the library, she is there, making sure that I successfully make the round-trip without excessive hyperventilation and that Dad successfully finds his way to the room of large-print books.

So many people teach me that people who need people are not the luckiest people in the world. They remind me that those of us who have people are the luckiest of all. I am lucky because I have so many people who convey a sense of camaraderie and caring through their consistent acts of kindness.



When stranger came to door, he gave more than she hoped

I am writing this to remind everyone that good, honest people do still exist.

Last weekend, I was out shopping. As I was loading my items into my car, my wallet became a nuisance, so I put it onto the hood of my car and ended up driving away without retrieving it.

A few hours later, I heard the doorbell and saw a stranger standing at my door. I opened the door and the man handed me my wallet. I could not have been more thankful.

I was in shock and awe and didn't know how to react or repay him. He left with nothing but my words of thankfulness. He also passed along kind advice that I should not keep my Social Security card in my wallet, as others could then steal my identity if I lost or forgot my wallet in the future.

I want this man to know how thankful I am. I do not know who he is, and I hope that he will read this or someone he told his story to will read it and pass along my gratitude. I promise to repay this act of kindness the first chance I get.




Has someone done you right? Send your Random Act of Kindness to page2@post-gazette.com, or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. First Published December 20, 2012 5:00 AM


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