Be Kind by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Be kind.

It takes so little effort.

While visiting my friend Robin last month, we ate in a delightful restaurant and engaged our young waitress, Jeanise, in a conversation about her life. No big deal.

To us, at least.

To her, it was a very big deal. At the end of our meal we were stunned when a waiter came over with a flaming Crème Brule, a gift from our waitress. When Jeanise returned to give us our check, we asked what had prompted her generosity and were told “because you were so kind to me.”

Her words reminded me of a time when I was eating in a diner with my son, Jeff, in a ski area in Colorado, and I struck up a conversation with our waitress. At the end of our meal, she said, “Thank you for being so kind to me.” I asked why I wouldn’t be, and she said, “Most people aren’t.”

Why wouldn’t people be kind to those serving them? Why wouldn’t people be kind to those not serving them? Why wouldn’t people be kind all the time? Kind isn’t hard. Kind is…well, kind. It is giving with no ulterior motive, no desire to get something in return.

My husband, Dave, recently was introduced to Wayne, a restauranteur who previously owned several restaurants. Dave asked how he was so successful, and Wayne said that he treated his employees well, especially his dishwasher (not the answer Dave expected, for sure). Wayne shared that people typically compliment the manager or chef, but he wanted those who never are recognized to be valued.

Being kind is no trivial matter. Perhaps that’s why Paul’s letter to the Colossians listed kindness as one of the ways “God’s chosen people” are to clothe themselves. Dr. Laurence M. Gould, president emeritus of Carleton College, recognizes its importance and shared his thoughts with this statement: “I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I don’t think our civilization will end that way. I think it will die when we no longer care.”

If you’re like me, you love stories in which people go the extra mile to show kindness. Ginger Keith, whose two-year old daughter, Vivian, is being treated for leukemia at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, told the Today Show that a group of construction workers spray-painted “Get Well” on a beam across from her two-year old’s hospital window. At All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, Fridays have become days of celebration. The young patients are brought to their windows and encouraged to dance (with parents, nurses, or alone) along with the dozens of construction workers who line the floors of the high-rise they are building across the street while a DJ on the roadway between the two buildings blares upbeat music.

Kind isn’t costly. A smile. A wink. A touch. A hug. A word. A listening ear. A prayer. I’m not sure there are many other things as inexpensive that offer as many rewards…not just for the receiver, but also for the giver. Why not give it a try? As someone once said, “Kind people are my kinda people.”

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