After reading the Dalai Lama’s book, one he co-wrote with Desmund Tutu, I wondered what would happen if I applied their suggestion, “Be the change you’d wish to see in the world.” A simple concept, and I thought I’d try it.
Soon after, I dropped by the grocery store at night to drop off a video and with only a few people in the store, I spotted a roll of money lying on the floor. A wad of 20s, right there in the open, and I scooped it up.
Counting it outside, I knew the money would mean a lot to someone, so I went back in to talk to the manager. He said a guy reported losing some money, but the amount was different from what I’d found. I explained I’d return it but the owner must correctly state the amount and denominations.
The manager called him, and the owner described a bunch of fresh 20s, naming the exact amount I was holding. We agreed to meet so I could return it to him.
Turned out he was a big guy, living with his partner and daughter in the old car that he drove into the parking lot. He said the money was for food, gas and medicine for his family. I didn’t want his offered reward, but he was so grateful, I told him I’d love a Five Guys burger. After nearly crushing me in a bear hug, he handed me $10 and we parted.
A similar outcome happened after I saw a kid pushing an old beat-up bicycle with a flat tire by my house. Since I have two bikes of my own, I asked if he’d like to use my tire-patch kit to fix his flat. Turns out his dad doesn’t live with him and never showed the boy how to do it, so I helped him break down the tire. We patched it, pumped it up, and away he went. This after he gave me a big hug and thanked me 10 times for helping him out.
With this success, and continuing to remind myself to “be the change,” I volunteered to be a tech tutor at our local library, helping patrons with their computers, tablets and phones.
My first customer was a Ukrainian grandmother who had been locked out of her Skype account and was unable to talk with her grandchild. Turned out, her daughter had borrowed her laptop and managed to annoy Skype to where they blocked the grandmother’s account. Finally, after struggling with it, I got a reset on the password and account, and grandmother and child were soon happily chatting away. Later, I helped a paralegal struggle through a local law firm’s pretest for employment. I then showed a retiree how to use his new tablet and responded to his question: “What’s a data?”
And my reward? A library patron called the library back to thank them for offering my help as a tutor.
So maybe these small, random acts of kindness don’t add up to world peace, but imagine if all of us showed a little more compassion and kindness to each other. That would be a change I’d love to see.