Random Acts of Kindness

English: A plain glazed donut. This was bought...

English: A plain glazed donut. This was bought at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday morning I awoke to cold rain pelting my window panes. The alarm clock screamed “beep, beep, beep!” while every bone in my body fought to stay under the covers. Given I needed an income, the alarm clock won. I shuffled out of bed and threw on my hooded sweat shirt, pants, and slippers. My dog and I bravely stepped into the rain. Fortunately, he took “go potty” seriously and then we ran for cover.

I executed my morning routine. I tamed my humidity ravaged hair into a cute beachy look and stepped out the door. . . only to realize my car and house keys were sitting in my coat pocket. I was not wearing this coat. )= Fortunately, my landlord placed a key lock box outside my apartment. I quickly manipulated the combination while the rain turned my beachy coiffure into that of Albert Einstein’s.

I hopped into my car only five minutes behind schedule. Woohoo! I hit a traffic jam five minutes into my commute. I called my scheduler and explained my dilemma. I also inquired if I was scheduled back-to-back. She hesitated, “yes, but I am sure it will all work out.” I pulled up to the clinic at 7:58 am only to discover there was no available parking in the provider lot. Fortunately, there was plenty of street parking. I pulled along the curb and saw the NO PARKING on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays for street sweeping. I checked my calendar. Damn, it was a fourth Tuesday. I circled the block several times with no luck. I called my scheduler and explained my dilemma. She recommended I pull into our lot and just block someone until lunch time. She also volunteered to stand outside (in the rain no less) to direct me into the lot. I pulled up to the lot to find her and two medical assistants ushering me in and holding the door open as I ran to my office.

I encountered my patient in the lobby. I apologized profusely for being late. I set all my bags down as I quickly unlocked my door and flipped on my lights and computer. My patient kindly carried in my bags. All was well. My second patient did not show, so I had several minutes before my next patient. I walked out and my colleague offered to pick up my new patient if I got backed up. She also told me she brought in donuts. I exhaled, hugged her, and picked up a donut. All was well.

What random act of kindness can you offer during this season of giving? Sometimes a parking space or a donut can make all the difference.





The Gift of Obstacles

At the end of a long day, I whipped into my favorite grocery store. CLUNK! A loud noise reverberated from my front tire. Shoot! I squarely nailed the curb. I felt dumb pulling into the parking lot, and I hoped no one witnessed my misfortune. Spotting a fresh chocolate chip cookie in the bakery case lifted my spirits. Unfortunately, the low tire pressure light quickly dashed it. While braking at the stop sign, my car lurched to the right. Ugh, my front was losing pressure quickly. I pulled into my driveway to hear the painful hiss of my tire deflating.

I called roadside assistance while taking intermittent bites of my cookie. The cheerful operator assured me she could help. However, since my insurance policy did not include roadside assistance, the help would cost $53.00. Double ugh! I savored the last of my cookie while watching the mechanic change my tire. I ruptured the sidewall. My tire was kaput. I called my Dad for support.

Me: Hi Dad, I blew my tire hitting a curb. I feel stupid. I need a pep talk.

Dad: Well A, there’s another thing you need to think about. You probably threw out your alignment.

Me: Dad, that is the worst pep talk ever!

Dad: Sorry, A. (laughing) I just wanted to make sure you got everything taken care of at the tire place. You’re well. The car is well. All is well.

Me: That’s better. Thank you. Love you.

Dad: Keep me posted on what happens.

While standing at the tire shop service counter, I overheard another customer buying tire insurance.

Me: It’s well worth it. I’m replacing a tire today for free.

Customer: Did you pick up a nail or something?

Me: No. I stupidly hit a curb while turning into the grocery store.

Customer: I totally did that the other day! I hit a curb in total daylight and felt like a dumb ass!

The service agent told a similar story. My shame quickly faded, and I realized everyone has these mishaps. This obstacle reminded me I’m not alone. I should give myself compassion vs. criticism. BTW- Dad my alignment is ok.

What gifts have obstacles brought to your life?





English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit...

English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit Crises. On any given night in USA, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in a modest home. My parents worked extremely hard. We always had food on the table, clothes on our back, and a roof over our heads. However, name brands, family vacations, and eating out were rarities. In between 40 hour work weeks, my parents volunteered their time to good causes. They reminded my sister and me of our blessings. When we complained that “EVERYONE has Guess jeans”, they reminded us, “Many people have it much worse than you.” As a teenager who desperately wanted the coveted red question mark on my derriere, I lost sight of my blessings. My parents’ love and sacrifices allowed me to go to college. My experiences there gave me the confidence to pursue graduate school. Now I live in one of the most beautiful and expensive cities in the country, and I work in a clinic that sees some of the poorest people who inhabit it.

On a daily basis, I hear stories of remarkable individuals dealt incredibly unfair hands . . . illness, businesses failing, trauma . . . which left them without a family, shelter, and/or money to cover basic needs. Food stamps do not cover razors or feminine products. I frequently ask, “Given everything you’ve endured, what keeps you going?” Their responses humble me . . . “God, my children, my dog, hope it’s got to get better, others have it worse than I do.”

Last night I appreciated the warmth of my down comforter given the plummeting temperature. I thought of my patients who lacked a warm bed to sleep in. It filled me with sadness and fear. I quickly attempted to expunge this thought. Privilege allows one to do that . . .change the channel, look straight ahead when someone is panhandling, and overlook the sociopolitical structures which perpetuate inequality in our society.

I recognize that I have to stand in the discomfort of privilege. Then, ask myself, “What I can do in my corner of the world to level the playing field a bit?” What can you do?