It all started with a root canal. As I was waiting for a pain prescription to be filled, I decided I wanted something different to read. Curiously, I was drawn to a business magazine I hadn’t read in years. In it I found a story about the story* behind my favorite healthy treat, Kind bars. The founder’s father was in a Nazi concentration camp as a young boy. He survived through kindnesses shown him. Once a German soldier threw him a potato. He never forgot. His example to his son was to be kind to others. The son never forgot either. Part of his reason for starting the company was to honor his father.
About a week later, I’m in my local grocery store selecting a variety of Kind bars for a road trip. Another customer comes up and we begin a conversation about where to find the best prices and our favorite flavors. I tell her about the story I read. She tells me that she has recently been reading library books about the holocaust and watching documentaries about it on television. This led us to talking about the cultivation of peace in our hearts, one person at a time. Soon we part, heading for opposite ends of the aisle. I hear her call out, “Don’t forget to be kind!” I turn and smile. “I won’t!” I tell her.
Groceries in the car, I think about my favorite checkout clerk. She was there today, but her line was long so I opted for a self-checkout lane. Nancy has been working there since the store opened over 20 years ago. I think she’s in her 80s. Over the years, we’ve come to know each other by name and have brief-but-real conversations as I check out. In low times past, her friendly greeting and smile had sometimes been the highlight of my day.
I return to the store and buy a bouquet of flowers. No one’s in the flower department so I wrap the ends in some wet paper towels, put them in a water-proof sleeve and tie a bow around it with two shades of ribbon I clip off the roles myself. When Nancy is free, I walk up and hand her the bouquet. “I’ve been coming through your line for a lot of years, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate you.” We both start crying as she says, “You just made my day!” I hug her and reply, “You’ve made my day plenty of times and this is long overdue.”
I don’t want kindness to be a lost commodity in my life or in my entrepreneurial business. It really costs nothing and can mean so much. It’s not hard; even for introverts. Maybe it’s even easier for us. I think Henry James said it best:
* Read the full story here.