When paying-it-forward goes all kinds of wrong; and other thoughts on kindness

My readers, my friends! I missed you! It has been too long since I got the chance to sit down and write. It’s been an interesting day and I’m foregoing an afternoon run for writing to you guys. There seems to have been a common theme of my day: simple acts of kindness.

I hate to be negative, but whether you realize it or not, this is probably a common theme of most days…. but not for a good reason. Whether you’d call it kindness or courtesy or love, I’d say our society does not do well in this department. 

While heading towards the doors of my calculus lecture hall, I noticed I was following a tall, dapper young man about my age by just a few steps. He turned his head around for a brief second, making momentary eye contact, as he reached for the door.

Surely this guy has seen me and will at least prop the door open long enough for me to hold it open for myself.

 Nope. I was wrong. The heavy metal door slammed in my face and he disappeared into the lecture hall. I can’t say I was stunned.

And that wasn’t the first time this has happened. I’d estimate it happens on a nearly daily basis to either me or passers-by I observe on campus. Now, this could be an argument on chivalry being dead, but I think that’s just too cliche… maybe even verging on worn-out to the point of irrelevance. I see it in females, too. I see it in children and parents and professors and baristas. It’s just a lack of caring about others. 

So I’ll share the second kindness-themed experience of my day…

As I stood in line in the CoHo (UC Davis’s food court at the student union) waiting to buy a slice of pizza, it popped into my head to pay for the person behind me in line’s slice. I planned on being as anonymous as possible, getting out of dodge before the person could identify me or try to repay me. I just wanted to do something to make a stranger’s day.

But, unsurprisingly, the cashier looked at me in confusion and asked why I wanted to pay for the girl behind me’s slice of cheese pizza. “Just to be nice,” I did not know how else to respond, “Just don’t tell her I bought it for her.” Another, worse look glazed over the cashier’s face. I genuinely felt judged for doing something abnormally kind.

Then, the next register opened and the cashier had to explain to the her co-worker the slice of pizza had already been paid for, which of course confused the girl paying for her meal. The cashier ended up telling her I had bought it; all the while, I stood there awkwardly. 

“Why’d you do that?” The girl asked to which I shrugged and responded, “Just a little pay-it-forward, I guess.” She graciously took the piece of pizza, didn’t even ask for my name, thanked me… nonetheless, seemed confused and taken aback.

It’s things like this incident… or like when I smile at people while I bike or run or walk by, and they intentionally look away as if I’m physically diseased… that I wonder what has happened to kindness in this world. How is it that kindness has become such a rarity? Why is doing something out of the goodness of our hearts looked down upon nowadays? 

It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day living without giving a thought to the human beings also doing life around us. I just don’t think this is any sort of excuse for neglecting our ability, as humans, to bring simple joy to others, even others that we don’t know. I guess I’m just a little disappointed about my day, and the regular happenings of most days, when I think about it. 

I will never stop smiling at people in public, even if it does make them uncomfortable. I will rcontinue to find small ways to make other people feel loved, even if they don’t always follow script. I will hold doors open for the person behind me, whether male or female. I will examine the parts of my life that could use a face-lift when it comes to being kind. I propose you join me.

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One thought on “When paying-it-forward goes all kinds of wrong; and other thoughts on kindness

  1. thank you, the article and the true happiness rays began to warm hearts, when we share it with sincerity. Greetings from Gede Prama 🙂

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