A Random Act of Kindness

Posted by Lakshmi

I  actually got this idea of doing a random act of kindness from Oprah Winfrey , the most talkative of all talk show hosts! and really, I think she does a great job, full of verve and vitality.

One of the ideas I picked up from her ' random act of kindness'  episode  was when  she told her viewers to do something for the benefit of  others without expecting anything in return - which is exactly what kindness is all about anyway.  Some  examples of random act of  kindness she espoused were  paying  for the car behind you while waiting in line at the toll booth,  paying for a meal for someone at the same eaterie you' re in , doing the grocery shopping for your neighbour ( depends on what kind of neighbour you have, I suppose ) etc...etc., you get the idea.  Nothing big or going out of your way to show everyone how kind you are  but simple things that anyone can do anywhere without making a big hulabaloo.....

Although this particular episode was shown a few years ago, it left a deep impression on me and ever since then, I have been practising it wherever and whenever possible.  And frankly, its not that big a sacrifice, its just a little extra effort and thought but it certainly makes me feel   reeeaal  good inside and along the way, I have modified my random act of kindness to suit the situation.

Once, when I paid the toll for the car behind me, the toll booth operator asked me whether the driver behind was my relation or 'saudara'.  I say no and she said ' Oh ? '.  I especially like to show my appreciation when I have to 'cut in' when I have gone to the wrong lane and after paying the toll for the driver who has allowed me the way, I would wave my hand and drive off.  The surprised driver would wave to me with a smile when he/she catches up with me on the road.  Great fun, this one..... do try it   .....

Sadly, I can't seem to do this anymore because I now have ' Touch N Go' card to pay at the automatic booth - couldn't stand the queue la 

Now, the paying for the meal thingy is a bit different.  I certainly don't believe in paying for someone's else meal in a posh restaurant!.  That would be downright stupid and I would have to have my head examined by a shrink.  The way to go about it is when you patronise  the hawker foodstalls or the family owned restaurants/kopitiam which are dotted along the outskirts of  town or even in the town itself. The poor are not limited to the backyards only, you know.  When having a meal at these eateries, I would casually observe the crowd and when I see someone elderly  having a meal or anyone  hanging outside the eaterie  whom I think deserves a meal ,  I would pay for the them when I settle the bill and inform the cashier to not reveal anything, just that an anonymous person paid for him/her out of kindness and not on pity.   Most often,  they will ask why I'm doing this or worse, what big sin/mistake/wrong I had committed and am now making amends for it ?!!!. After my initial shock and stunned stupid look on my face, I realised that this must be a new concept  for them. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining that its just a simple act of human kindness that all of us must do but most often, I leave them with a surprised look on their face! 

Sometimes, when there are no other customers, I'll usually tell the cashier to keep the change , top it up with a $ 10 or so and tell them to give a decent meal for any deserving  Ak Kow  Arasu  or Ahmad who comes along.  (  hey, please give a minimum of $5/ - at least okay) If it is a regular eaterie that I patronise, I'll usually have a 'standing instruction' kind of arrangement thingy  and will settle the payment later.  My son, Arvind, asked me what if the cashier takes the money and doesn.t give the meal?  " Well,  I explained to him, ' thats his sin to bear, ain't mine ' .  Now, my son is the scouter for the elderly when we go 'makan' and we both have a great time.  My daughter, Thangam , 19, is more of a silent observer and is not a voluble person like mother and son, but I'm sure she got the drift.  I don't believe in preaching about kindness to my kids but not showing them how its done.  Wasn't it the great Lao Tsu who said - A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" ?

Well, I have started on my journey with tiny steps and I hope everyone follows Lao Tsu in everything they do .............

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