“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” -Oscar Wilde
I was in the airport when I saw her – a young mother with her small baby strapped to her chest in a carrier and her little two year old boy by her side with a car seat in one hand and luggage in the other. She was traveling alone with her two little kids and she was struggling to try and get her luggage up on the security conveyor belt and unstrap her baby. She was obviously struggling but no one was stepping forward to help her. My husband and I were several people behind her in line and it was obvious people were getting frustrated by how long she was taking, yet none of them offered to help her. I couldn’t stand by and do nothing – I felt her pain as I remember being a young mother myself with two small babies that same age trying to get through an airport – so I jumped out of line and ran up ahead to help her get her things on the belt and help make sure her little boy didn’t run away from her. As I ran forward one of the security guards yelled, “You can’t go through the metal detector with your shoes on!” “I’m not going through the detector, I am just going to help this mother get through.” As I lifted her carseat onto the belt and helped her with her bags and children the people behind her watched quietly…it’s as if it simply hadn’t crossed their minds to offer to help her. As I helped get her little boy to the metal detector to walk through the security guard who had yelled out earlier said, “Ma’am…thank you for helping her…ma’am, thank you…”
I then ran back to join my husband in line. He and I got through the detector only to find that same young mother now at the end of the belt trying to repack her bags and get her baby back in the carrier while trying to explain that it was a bottle warmer they’d taken from her diaper bag to confiscate. She was close to tears by this point when I helped her gather her things and offered to help walk her and her little boy and to carry her bags to her gate. I could literally feel her gratitude as we walked down to her gate where she gave me a huge hug and thanked me.
It was a simple act of kindness on my part. It didn’t take more than a few minutes to help her and it was no struggle for me at all…but to her it was as if I’d given her the world…
I can’t help but wonder what went through the minds of the other people that stood in that security line watching her struggle…did it even cross their minds to help her? I’m not asking that to pass judgment on anyone, I’m asking it because I know how easy it is to get so caught up in our own worries that we can’t see another’s need…maybe they were worried about being on time to their flight…maybe they couldn’t imagine what it was like to be in her shoes because they’d never been there themselves…maybe their minds were on their own internal struggles and they couldn’t see her external struggle happening right in front of them…
All I can tell you is that helping that young mother that day at the airport did far more for me than it did for her. It touched my heart in a way I can’t describe other than to say I was filled with peace and joy the rest of the day. And all it took was the smallest act of kindness on my part, yet the payoff was huge…the payoff for me was HAPPINESS!
If we stay alert we will see opportunities all around to help someone…opportunities to perform an act of kindness. It can be as small as a smile, or opening a door, or carrying a package, or picking up the paper someone dropped, or giving a sincere compliment…you just have to be on the lookout in your day and you will see an abundance of opportunities arise…and trust me when I tell you that the payoff…that feeling you’ll get from helping another is worth its weight in gold.
“Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.” -unknown
~Amy Rees Anderson