Tuesday, March 10, 2009

tidbits of kindness and more....

I am just a really friendly person... too dam friendly sometimes and I get burnt a lot but oh well... I love to help people and in return, have been lucky to be helped also.

To give you an idea of how friendly (and crazee) I am, I recently was in a restaurant to eat with my sister. When dining out I have a (good) habit of washing my hands before and after eating. On this day I wore a long-sleeved sweater so by time I walked to the men's room, my sleeves were pushed up so I wouldn't get them wet. I pushed open the door to enter and saw a man there at the sink. He turned his head to me and looked - a common human reaction. I turned my hands upward as would a doctor and stated with a serious expression "I am getting ready for a surgery" as he laughed out loud. Hey, it's good to laugh!!

Often while on the road, I get stopped behind a bus picking up passengers and want to get into another lane... a car behind me sees my blinking turn-signal, flashes his lights at me and allowed me to enter that lane. I mention to my passenger that there's always a good person helping others for the sole reason of helping another individual..... to which the reply was: "you must have good karma... It would never happen to me".

Well, I have had this "good karma" just about all my life. Granted I haven't won any lotteries, have never been awarded a free vehicle or trip anywhere, but good fortune can consist of other things less material. I do things for others without any regard to myself. I've given change/money needed by a fellow shopper/human for a purchase, a parking meter, or other things. To the homeless, though I (try not to ignore but do) give food rather than money simply because I know where the food will go, but have NO idea where the money ends up.

It's an endless list of who and where I have helped people. I am not trying to toot my own horn, but kindness is contagious and am hoping that if you read this, you will think of situations and times you can also help others.

Recently on a curvy, twisting, turning narrow downgrade down a mountainside, I was followed soon by bicyclists behind me. When I was a young lad, I had a ten-speed and on a steep SF hill, a taxi stopped on a "dime" in front of me without any warning but his brake lights; I had NO time to stop gradually and hit the back of the cab and landed on the taxi's front hood.... that's all I remember but I do know I wasn't hurt at all. I remember that moment in my life and always try to respect bicyclists now when I see them. These two bicyclists were zipping down the steep mountain with me, just 20 feet behind me. I looove driving twisting roads and hardly touched my brakes but when I saw them, tried to keep in front of them and when there was a spot I could pull over, I did. To my {pleasant} surprise, the lead rider actually sat up on his racing bike in the middle of a tight turn, turned his head and waved at me shouting "thanks a lot!". I know it's hard to brake behind a car and a car can stop faster than a bicycle and when you're zooming, it's difficult to gauge how a car driver will react and if you'll end up on his hood and worst: off the road in the bushes. Besides, his thoughtful reaction and words were as kind as my pulling off the road for them.

I was in Costco a few week ago looking for an item when I passed an older short woman with a shopping cart. She was alone in an empty aisle trying to pick up a heavy case of water - she wasn't having too much luck. I immediately walked to her and as she noticed someone was nearby, she started to look up to ask for assistance, but I beat her to it and offered to help her. I picked it up and placed it in her cart, and she was grateful. As I walked off, she said: "I am so happy you walked down this aisle!".

I have a bad habit of walking up to strangers holding maps and asking if I can be of assistance. Many refuse saying they know where they are, though they continue to look at their maps. I can understand as a fellow traveler that you can never know when to trust someone in an unfamiliar place.... but I keep doing it, and have done so whenever and wherever I am: Germany, the UK, in Sweden and many parts of Spain and throughout the USA. I still continue this habit, happy to be able to assist others to get where they need to go/see.

I am all over the place taking pictures and see oftentimes others at the various locations where I find myself with my camera. Sometimes we speak but often it's just silence. When I see a couple/individual with camera in hand trying to get a decent picture of themselves with no tripod or others available to help them snap a pix, I always walk up to volunteer to snap their picture. I don't mind at all! I used to hate having pictures of myself - still do actually - but now that I am away from my good friends in Spain and Oregon, I find myself snapping pixs of myself often - shock & surprise - so that I can share with my far-away friends. I know that if I were in their shoes, I would also enjoy seeing where they have been or how their lives are. There are even times during the thousands of sunsets I've observed that I'll encounter someone with their camera, unable to get the true colors of the dying sol before them. So, I'll take their camera in hand and try to get it for them.... their happy faces of gratitude are enough for me.

Back in Spain, I remember one hot summer day as I walked back home after meeting friends in the downtown area. I never walk long return, but take off-streets and zig-zag through the maze of the streets to my apartment. On this day, I saw a woman carrying her day's shopping.... she had three bags and used both hands and her wrist to balance the heavy bags. So, I walked up beside her and asked her in spanish: I am going the same way you are.... may I help you with your bags? She paused in her steps while looking at me. What a dilemma for this woman... wanting assistance but afraid to ask from a stranger.... not wanting to insult someone by refusing but on the other hand, who can be trusted these days? After what seemed a long pause, she agreed and she put the bags down so she could give me bags to carry, which I refused and instead took the heavier bags. I walked beside her for about 10 slow-lazy minutes, making small-talk about the weather (everyone in Spain always talks of the weather), how the day has progressed, etc... and finally left her closer to her home. I would have taken the bags all the way to her home but thought that was way too much from a stranger.

These are just tidbits from my life of helping others. I am sure you have done the same and more.... just remember: we are all human and we all need help sometimes..... though we may not want to ask... a helping hand will always be gratefully accepted.....

Practice random acts of selfless kindness. Again, this isn't to toot my horn, but to show you how everyone and you can help others. This doesn't make me better than others.... I think it just makes me more human.

PS: I was just informed that the court case I was rejected as a juror weeks ago didn't even last four days... the day after I was ejected as a juror, the case was settled out of court! ;-)


  1. There should be more people like you in the world. A little kindness goes a long way.
    You deserve good Karama.
    I feel like I have been a bit of a snob lately. I‘ve been busy and feel like I am playing catch up. I will email you over the next few days for a bit of a chat.


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