The thing I love most about carrying out random acts of kindness, is the fact that they can often have a ripple effect.
In the long term, this means that the person you hand a RAOK to may then go and pay it forward, and so on, and so on, thus making the world a little bit of a better place in turn. In the short term however, you may find that it opens the door to other, more unexpected acts of kindness as soon as it unfolds.
An example of this happened to me the other week.
I’d parked my car on a local town centre car park, ready to go meet a writing client. There were a few more cars parked up, but one of them stood out because there happened to be a pram parked right next to it. A young lady, who I had assumed was the mother or carer of the child to who the pram belonged, was sat in the car with her eyes closed. Straight away I felt for her; being so tired that she had forgotten to put the pram back in the car after bundling the baby into the car seat (sleeping peacefully in the back of the car, from what I could see).
I really didn’t want to wake the lady up, as we all know how elusive sleep can be with kids around. Likewise though, I didn’t want her to come round from her rest and a) find that the pram had been stolen, or b) forget about the pram all together and just drive off without it. Such an outcome would have had a ripple effect of its own – the inconvenience of not having a pram, the financial stress of replacing such a large and costly item, and the worry of one’s state of mind having made such a mistake in the first place. I weighed up all of this information and knocked on the window.
The lady stirred, opened her eyes, and, after a little jump, focussed on me. She wound down the window. With a smile, I told her not to forget her beautiful pram (always nice to throw in a compliment). The lady started crying, and without warning, starting pouring out to me how she was so tired and that she hadn’t even thought of the pram, because it had taken so long to get her daughter into the car without a fuss after she had screamed her way through an essential town centre visit. It came pouring.
I had no idea what to do, so for some reason I decided to sit down on the floor. I began to actively sympathise with her, and shared with her the view that being a parent is so tough. I told her that I have so much respect for anyone who is attempting to carry out daily routines on their own whilst clutching an infant at the same time. We made small talk about parenting, teaching (as that’s my thing) and kids in general, and we actually had a laugh.
After ten minutes or so, the lady thanked me; not only for telling her about the pram, but for listening, and for giving her a chance to giggle. Those last few things were never my intention at the start of my interaction with her, but I’m certainly glad that my one small act had many knock-on effects that hopefully changed her state of mind for the better that day.