Exchanging Kindnesses

Those who know me know that I love kindness. I like to sprinkle that shit everywhere and give it an opportunity to grow. Kindness is sort of like grass seeds thrown around the yard. Some will be eaten up. Some will be blown away and left on concrete to waste. But a lot of it is going to sink deep down into the soil and eventually grass is going to take root and grow.

You know that cashier at the local dollar store who is looking haggard and tired ringing up orders all day long with those clever people who think they are original asking her, “How much is this?” and giggling when she fights the temptation to roll her eyes and replies “A dollar,” as professionally as she can because she needs this job? She’s in need of a little kindness. So if I see that her glasses frames are really adorable and truly accent her face and haircut, I’m going to say that. Or if her nails are painted in a truly awesome color, I’m going to say that. Because there are days when one just needs to hear something kind. I know I have them.

Once when I was on my way into the Kroger by my house, I walked past the coin-counting machine where a woman who must have been between paychecks was worriedly dumping a large can full of coins into the tray. I stood sort of staring and she turned around and asked me, “What?” I told her the truth. “I love that dress. You’re totally rocking the red print.” It was true. She had chosen a fabulous outfit and it looked really good on her. She sort of caught her breath and then smiled. And I waved and headed toward the produce section.

You see, years ago I had the exact opposite experience. I had just had my fourth baby and had returned to work from maternity leave still carrying an extra 30 pounds plus a fibroid in my uterus the size of Guatemala. None of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit and my maternity clothes were now too big. I had found a purple pants suit, loose-fitting and flowy pants with a short-sleeved button down blouse the same color. I wore this with a turquoise and purple print scarf around the collar and felt a fraction of confidence as I liked the colors. (What? It was 1999!) As I got off of the elevator and headed toward my office, my first day back, my confidence was shot to hell by two very mean women who started singing the theme song to Barney and one of them actually guffawed and said, “Her ole fat ass! Who told her she could get away with wearing THAT?”

My confidence was destroyed by two mean strangers who had no idea that I was struggling with post-partum depression and discomfort in my own skin. They thought it was funny. I was crushed and my entire day was spent hiding in my cubicle, afraid that everyone else would see me as a joke. I vowed to never make anyone else feel as crappy as those two mean women had made me feel.

So I spread kindness; little tiny seeds of hopeful confidence and true compliments to people I meet daily. Sometimes they’re met with gratitude. Sometimes they’re not. But it’s become a way of life with me. I like kindness. I think I’ll continue to share.

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