Choices: Receiving and Spreading Kindness

On my way to work one morning, I made a routine stop for coffee at a Starbucks drive-thru.  I placed my usual order to the garbled voice projecting from the speaker and pulled my car forward.  When I reached the window, the smiling salesperson informed me that my drink had already been paid for.  My look of disbelief must have been amusing because she laughed slightly, further explaining that the car ahead of me had done it blindly and on a whim.

In that moment, I realized I had a choice.  I realized that I had been included in something that was bigger than just you or me.  I felt a huge grin spread across my face and knew what my choice would be.  Handing my card to the woman, I asked her to please pay for the car’s order that was behind mine.  Now she was the one with the look of disbelief!  We both were laughing and smiling at that point, sharing in the joy of unexpected kindness.

Some cynics will call these random acts a trend.  Well, the trend is catching and our town of Reno is not the only place where others are taking note of kindness.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Carol Flynn saw a mom in need at Wal-Mart.  She was putting aside three large boxes of diapers in the check-out line so Carol put them back in and paid for them.  The mother tried to politely decline.  Carol may not have been the wealthiest, but she could afford the $120 purchase so she made it.  The two women laugh and joke as she swipes her card at the terminal, the young mother looks as if she can’t believe what’s happening.

A Sioux Falls resident captured the whole thing on video and the clip has gone viral.  In the first three days it was liked more than 17,500 times and shared at least 4,700 times.  The YouTube comments have ranged anywhere from accusations of the whole thing being a set-up to faith in humanity restored.


The kindness of strangers can be powerful.  I will never forget the first time I got sick on a plane (food poisoning after a wedding – just say no to crab).  The gentleman sharing my row, rather than drawing back in disgust after hearing me wretch, immediately came to my aid.  He ordered water from the flight attendant, made sure all the A/C vents were pointed at my shaking back, and kept asking how I was doing.  He told jokes and stories about his plan horrors, forcing me to laugh through what would have been an otherwise awkward situation.  He was a lifesaver.

I’d like to encourage all of our readers to think of a time when a stranger was your lifesaver and share your story in the comments. 

If you have the opportunity to show kindness to strangers, do it!  No act is too big or too small and we are faced with choices every day where kindness can be shown.