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Why Are We Kind
The lady at the checkout counter was explaining to me how the police can get into your cell phone and retrieve information- old texts, voice mails, national security secrets or seemingly anything their hearts desire. I was playing along with her, saying things like “aint that the truth”, “makes you wonder”, “big brother is watching us thatt’s for sure”, when I collected my change ,told her I hoped that she had a good day and headed for the door.
As I was leaving, a middle aged father and his teenage daughter were coming in. When the dad saw me coming he stopped in mid stride and reached back to hold the door open for me. He had put himself into this position were his torso was twisted one way, his shoulders the other and his arm had come out of its socket to keep the door from closing. I intentionally slowed down to examine the new Sasqwatch Big Foot beef jerky slabs, and observed his anguished face with amusement. I strode through the door and gave the guy an emphatic “Thanks Buddy!” opened the door of my 1992 Sable, said my “please start prayers” fired up the engine and drove off.
As I was driving I started wondering about what is it that makes people perform these random acts of kindness. Do they feel as though they are being kind? Or are their lives so out of control that they struggle to give themselves the illusion of control in their every action? Even if their action is based out of a desire to be kind is it a selfish validation that they really are good people? Are they doing it out of a desire to impress others who may be watching?
I found myself thinking about how kind this guy is at home? How kind is he with his family? Does his seemingly selfless desire to be “good” extend into those he knows personally if not intimately? Is it to easy to delude ourselves into feeling kind in performing these random acts that we do not try as hard to give the same courtesy to those we love?
My thoughts drifted back to the conversation I had with the convenience store lady regarding her Orwellian concept of the police as they relate to our cell phones. Musing over this I was brought back to the present by a car horn that sounded like it had been amplified and piped directly into my brain. The left turn signal on my 1992 Sable doesn’t function and it occurred to me that I was turning left and had been stopped in the lane waiting for an opening to scoot through to the other side. The horn intensified as I glanced over to the right lane. There was a man excitedly showing me his middle finger and mouthing some words to help me better understand what it was he was trying to express. There was a time when my ego would have demanded that I return the favor to him at the least and pursue him at high speed at the worst. Nowadays I just sort of look over and smile.
When I noticed that the man attached to the finger was the kind gentleman from the convenience store I couldn’t stop but bursting out laughing.