“What’s wrong, Chris?” My friend asked me after seeing the stunned expression on my face.
I was speechless for several seconds as I reached down into my empty pants pocket. Tears of frustration began welling up in my eyes.
“I just left my wallet in that cab!” I exclaimed, furious at my own mistake. It was well past midnight on a Saturday night in New York City. With a group of my best friends by my side, I thought I had just committed the biggest party foul of all.
But the group had other plans.
One of my friends helped me call my bank and credit card company to report my cards lost and have replacements sent to my apartment overnight. Another friend, realizing that I wouldn’t have an I.D. to get into the bar, strategically directed us toward a venue where we knew the bouncer and the bartenders. A final friend spotted me some cash to get me through the weekend before my new cards arrived.
Turns out, love is in the details. Love rolls up its sleeves and gets to work. Love is full of surprises.
On my way to the grocery store the next day, I noticed a voicemail from an unknown number. I played the message back and gasped at what I heard. A stranger found my wallet in the cab and got my cell phone number from my business card inside. Before I knew it, I was on the subway up to Harlem to meet him at a pre-determined location. An older African-American man approached me and handed my wallet back to me, contents fully intact, then walked away after a brief exchange of words.
I chased after him down the block and offered him $50. But he refused to take it.
Sitting on the train back to downtown Manhattan, a wave of gratitude washed over me and enveloped me in a warm blanket of bliss. I was grateful to have my wallet back. I was grateful that my mistake had been corrected. I was grateful for the kindness of a stranger.
A simple act of kindness has the power to heal your heart, mend your wounds and save your soul. Wherever there is hurt, kindness acts as a salve. There is no amount of darkness that kindness and compassion can’t drive out. As Bob Goff says in his book, Everybody Always, “Selfless love has the power to transform even the darkest places into meadows.”
It’s our duty to appreciate, honor and respect that kindness and love. And pass it on. Instead of hate, spread hope. Instead of fear, spread faith. Instead of loss, spread love.
Below, I shine a light on three friends of mine who are doing just that. The moral of these stories is simple: There are far more good people out there than you realize. Truth is, good things happen everyday. But not if you don’t pay attention to them.
So, pay attention. Pay your respects. Pay it forward.
The future of our world depends on it.
1. The gift card that kept on giving.
My friend Kramer recently posted something poignant on Facebook that I immediately knew would touch the hearts of others. Not because it’s extraordinary or over the top in any way, but because it’s the exact opposite: Beautifully basic and magically mundane. He decided to buy coffee for the people behind him in line at Dunkin’ Donuts. Here’s Kramer in his own words:
“Last Tuesday I decided to pay for my daily Dunkin order with a $25 gift card that had been in my wallet since Christmas. I then decided to use the remaining balance to help pay for the next three people behind me in line. I felt great crossing off my good deed for the day.
This morning I pulled up to the Dunkin window to find that my order had already been taken care of. The instant smile on my face is exactly what I needed this morning. Pay it forward everyone and keep the good deeds rolling. You never know how badly that person behind you in line may need it.”
Bravo, Kramer! Here’s to saving the world one cup of coffee at a time.
2. The LOVE💕connection.
Much like the older man who returned my wallet to me, my friend Michele recently found someone’s cell phone in a cab. What happened next will hit you right in the feels. Here’s what Michele said:
“Yesterday, I found someone’s cell phone in a cab. It wasn’t locked (not that smart), so I looked in the recent calls and dialed the one named LOVE 💕 (very smart). It was her husband who was grateful I rang, and we figured out how to get the phone back to his wife.
Today, they left me a thank you card and a Starbucks gift card. I like when humans are nice to each other. And caffeine makes me happy.”
See, kindness goes a long way. Apparently, coffee does, too.
3. The Wal-Mart waltz.
In today’s world, it’s all too easy to wear our busyness as a badge of honor. And to use that busyness as an excuse to be selfish. But for those who leave just a little bit of space—who look up from their phones for just long enough to live in the present moment—there’s always an opportunity to help someone in need. My friend Chris is a shining example of that. Here’s his story:
“While walking into Wal-Mart this afternoon, I noticed an elderly gentleman helping his elderly wife out of their car near the entrance to the store. I know first-hand the reality of limited mobility, so upon seeing this, I rerouted my walking so I could pass by them on my way into the store. As I got closer, it was only then I noticed he was attempting to transfer her into a wheelchair. At this point, almost walking into the store myself, she began to scream. I saw that she had begun to fall. Just as her husband began to shout, by some coincidence, I was just close enough to reach out & scoop her up and then gently bear hug her close to my body before she ever hit the ground. At this point, I assisted the woman into her wheelchair...which I then saw wasn't even locked in place with its brakes. Somehow in the brief conversation I had with these two unnamed strangers after this situation, I managed to make the woman’s tears go away and even made her crack a smile. They didn't take me up on my offer to help them get their groceries in the store, so we parted ways. The point of this post is to hopefully encourage you to remember that even when people seemingly don't need our help, they [just might]. Now, more than ever, as a full-time caregiver… I realize that notion. As I finished up my own shopping, I did happen [to] see them as I walked past an aisle. And guess what? They both seem very content with their day. THAT is what makes me smile. THAT is my #SmileStory today.”
A #SmileStory indeed.
What are some uplifting stories of kindness you’ve discovered lately? Share them in the comments—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.