Blog Challenge Day 6: Your Most Recent Random Act of Kindness
It’s sad when someone asks you this question and you can’t quite remember an intentional thing that you did for the sake of being kind. I’m telling myself it’s because I try to be thoughtful so much of the time that the smallest things are really done without intention at all anymore, like holding the door open for another person, complimenting a stranger or smiling at a passerby because those small things are proven to brighten the days of others. I try to do those things all the time…but now I’m wondering how kind I actually am. Regardless, I do have an answer to this challenge, it just isn’t as recent as, say, this morning.
The restaurant where I work is in an upper-middle class/affluent part of town, it’s a mid–priced family style kind of place and the tips are generally 18-20% (which is what you should be tipping your server these days, by the way). My employer, indisputably, likes to employ a particular type of person, specifically responsible high school or college aged students who could be (and occasionally are) the children of our regular patrons. This means that most of my coworkers and I come from a similar demographic: hardworking parents who expect us to get good grades, go to college, start a family (in that order). Of my coworkers, there is one anomaly to this generality. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call her N.
As soon as N came on two years ago, she was (and still is) a bit of a shock and adjustment for most of the staff. From the beginning, she put us all off by giving the impression that she was better than a lot of us because we “had supportive and encouraging parents who always set good examples” (not necessarily true for some of my coworkers) and she had to work harder than many of us because she wasn’t handed everything she needed in life. In the same vain, it was clear that she felt insecure because so many of us were in college and had done well in school and she was perfectly open about the fact that she had slacked off. I know firsthand that N is not unintelligent, but I’ve come to understand that she’s had influential people in her life lead her to believe that she is. I struggled for months with how to love this girl as my neighbor, and in fact I still do, when she clearly looks down on me for the fact that I come from a more stable background than she does. I’ve been trying to be better at that in the last few months, but watching someone refuse to be proactive about their life, refuse to realize their potential – it’s challenging for me. My passion for international development has lent me an awareness that being impoverished in America is not nearly as devastating as it is in the developing world. If a healthy, literate American is living below the poverty line, he or she has so many more opportunities available to them to better their circumstances than those living in poverty in sub-saharan Africa. So, for me, it’s frustrating to see an American refuse to take an advantage of those opportunities.
Since joining the staff, N has had a child with her boyfriend. N is the only one who actively contributes to the household income and, not surprisingly, money tends to run tight for them. Over the last few months, business has steadily declined at our restaurant and recently, N has confessed her stress about utilities and rent and where is she going to get the money for it all?
So all this buildup and here’s my random act of kindness: when it was my turn to take a table of regulars who always tip more than 20% came in the other night, I turned to N and made her take the table. It’s a small thing, but I know it boosted her take-home money by thirty percent that night and short of directly putting money in her hands for herself and her baby (which I’m not really opposed to), it was the best I could do.
Does this count as a random act of kindness? What about you? What was your random act of kindness this week?