Around this time last year I answered the phone at my desk. It was a woman, near tears and filled with emotion, who wanted to express an encounter she had with Herald president Scott Stirling.
Having no idea what I was about to hear, and with some trepidation, I encouraged the woman to continue. As she was on her way into The Torbay Common, she shared, she just happened to pass Mr. Stirling who was on his way out. She noticed he was headed towards the parking lot, she continued.
“Next thing I knew, he had turned around, beat me back to the door and was holding it open for me,” she added.
And that, she announced, was all she wanted to share. I could tell by her voice that it wasn’t the end of the story.
A meaningful gesture
After some friendly chit-chat, the real story came out. Seems this woman, like many of us at some point in our lives, had been having some pretty rotten days of late. That day in particular had been a tougher-than-usual one, she admitted. Mr. Stirling’s kind, thoughtful act of going out of his way to hold open a door for a stranger gave her that little boost she needed to keep going, she confided. While her exact words have escaped me now, I remember being left with the feeling that our president’s action had left a lasting impression on this woman and that she had found some sort of inner strength from that small, but meaningful-to-her gesture.
We’ve all, hopefully, had little, though meaningful moments like that in our past. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the thrill of arriving at a drive-thru window only to be told my order had been paid for by the car ahead of me. I’ve also felt the thrill of having someone come up to me out of the blue to tell me they loved something; from my writing to my smile to the way they observed me interacting with my daughter. All are feelings that stick with you and raise your spirits.
Just this very week I experienced the difference the kindness of a stranger can make on someone’s day. On my way home from picking up fever medication for my daughter, a young gentleman decided he didn’t like the way I made a right turn, figuring, I suppose, that a few you-know-the-one hand gestures accompanied by colourful language-filled verbal bashing, road blocking and an attempted ramming would teach me a lesson.
To be honest, it took me a while to figure out that someone could be so vile and hateful to a stranger, and so I simply stopped my car as he blocked my way and approached me in anger. I then noticed something else in my rear-view mirror.
Another man, out and about on his own late-afternoon business, noticed the goings-on and came to my rescue. While there’s more to the story, the bottom line is this; while one stranger attempted to ruin, at the very least, my evening, another stuck around to see that I made it home to my daughter without incident. And for that man’s random kindness, I am forever grateful.
While kindness, patience and thoughtful gestures are never difficult for many of us when it comes to our own friends and family, Christmas, and the true meaning behind it, is always a great time to receive a gentle be-kind-to -strangers too nudge. Whether it’s holding open a door, paying for a coffee or stepping out of the shadows when you see someone needs a helping hand, when it comes to kindness, there really are no small or insignificant acts.
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]