Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the busyness of being and going and doing and we end up missing the small acts of loving kindness that are offered to us.
There’s an older gentleman who works at the supermarket near us. I think his job is maintaining the outside of the store. I always see him bring the carts back from the parking lot. I’d never had a conversation with him before and in the few greetings we have exchanged, I’ve had a hard time understanding him. In addition to a deep Southern lilt, age has added a mumble to his voice, and I’m only able catch every few words. His smile is as big as his heart, and it’s clear that he loves people and loves his job.
This morning I took the kids to the store for just a couple items for tonight’s dinner. I was in no particular hurry, and everyone was behaving quite well. As I was buckling the kids into the car on the front of the cart that keeps them so happily occupied, this gentleman approached us. He told the kids to be careful drivers and not get in a wreck. Then he asked me if they could have some candy and if they’d like almond joy or m&m’s. I smiled and said that would be fine and that they like m&m’s. I watched as he went over to a shopping cart that held his work supplies and reached for his lunch box. I was about to object because I thought he was offering the kids treats from his own lunch. But as I watched, it became clear that this was something he does regularly. He pulled out two ziploc bags that were filled with miniature almond joys and m&ms. He offered me one too, but I told him I was on a diet.
As he returned and gave 2 very grateful kids their candy, I asked him his name. It took me a few tries to get it right – but I’ll never forget it now. Nathaniel. He told me that he’s been working there and buying candy to give to kids for nine years. His kindness overwhelmed me, and I’ve determined to write a note or somehow let the manager know what an incredible level of humanness and service Nathaniel adds to their store.
There’s a lot of evil in the world, and it tends to be loud and attention grabbing and disconcerting and distracting. I often find myself in defensive mode while I’m out and about, continually protecting myself and my kids from what is sure to be lurking around the corner. But Nathaniel reminded me today not to become so hardened that I miss the quiet kindness that still exists in so many people. It’s not flashy or showy and won’t readily push itself on you. But if you’re alert and discerning- it’s still there, waiting to be claimed.