Friday, April 25, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers by Barbara Quinn

Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire is famous for the line, "I've always relied on the kindness of strangers." Unlike Blanche, most of us don’t depend on the kindness of strangers, but when a stranger provides us with an unexpected kindness, what a sweet gift it is. (Full disclosure here: I have to admit I also think of Woody Allen playing Blanche DuBois in the movie Sleeper whenever I hear that "kindness of strangers" line.)

I was running late, again, and the supermarket was incredibly crowded. I only had a few items in my hands. I scanned the lines. Darn. There was no checkout relief in site. Even the self-checkout lines were three deep. I took a deep breath, found a shortish line, and resigned myself to the wait. The woman in front of me caught my eye and I said, “What on earth is going on today? Everyone must have gotten the memo to go to the A&P at the same time.” She smiled and said, “Why don’t you go ahead of me.”

Oh wow. I did not expect that, even though I often let people go ahead of me when they have only a couple of items.

I hesitated and she said, “It’s fine. Really.” I thanked her. And I thanked her again when I’d finished. It was so nice to have someone do me a favor.

Sure there are a lot of sour pusses out there. It’s so much better to remember the encounters with the good-hearted souls like the supermarket lady. That little exchange left me in a good mood for hours. Here’s to those who take the time to do a little kindness.


Kathryn Magendie said...

I often, really often, let people ahead of me...but, seldom does it happen to me...huh...well I never *laughing* but, sometimes it does happen and when it does, I am grateful.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Me too, Kathryn & Barb. And it makes me laugh when the others behind me start grousing that I've let too many 1-5 item folks in before me. LOL. "Tough noogies," as Tod Lubner used to say on Saturday Night Live.

Samella Trent said...

What a great act of kindness. I must admit though, that I am the sour puss often, because a lot of times, when I go shopping, someone will ask to go infront of me. At least you did not ask and someone had a chance to "do and act of kindness" on their own. Perhaps next time I'm asked, I'll remember your piece and just smile, and say, "sure!"

Barbara Quinn said...

Samella,What the heck...give it a try and maybe that person will pass the favor on too.

Samella Trent said...

I'm going to the store tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

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