I have been trying to think of a time where an act of kindness really changed the course of my day, in the hopes that I can illustrate why kindness, which seems so simple, is actually really complicated and doesn’t feel simple at all when it’s really needed. And let’s face it: it’s really needed.
Many years ago, I was planning my wedding. We were down to the wire, about a month to go, with everything having to come together and last-minute decisions needing to be made. My parents were driving me to a dress fitting, and I used the car ride to chat on the phone with the manager of the catering hall.
It was not a good conversation. A huge component of the biggest day of my life was falling through the cracks. If you’ve ever been a bride, you might feel me on how devastating that can be in the moment. Especially when the person on the other end of the line has very little in the way of compassion and understanding.
All details aside, I was angry, I felt betrayed. I felt so hot I could have started a fire just by touching something.
At the dress fitting, I tried to keep the emotions in, along with my stomach. It was the first time my dad was seeing me in the dress and I wanted it to be a nice day for us. My shoes, however, did not feel like keeping it together. As I went to try them on, each pretty bead that decorated the toes of the shoes fell off, one by one, in a long, delicate string that I saw happen, but couldn’t stop.
Beads scattered the floor around me.
I hadn’t lost it yet. The tailor came over to me, with what she had been able to salvage from my shoes, and she said, “Honey, I also mend shoes. Would you like me to re-string these? I can make them even stronger than before and I promise you, they will be perfect on your big day.”
Well people - that got me.
Tears just flew out of my eyes, without warning and were not to be held back. With concerned faces around me, I let it all out and cried some more, as my mom explained to the bewildered tailor that “she’s not upset with you; she’s had a hard day and someone is showing her kindness now so she feels she can let go.”
I had a bride-tastic breakdown in the middle of a dress shop, and it was all because of a kind sentence from a stranger.
What do I take from this story? Why did I tell you this?
I will admit that at first, even though I thanked the tailor and dress shop owner over and over again, it didn’t really sink in how simple the effort on their part was to make a customer feel good until later. What if we treated every customer, client, or person that way?
Until I went home that night and really reflected on the day, I didn’t really give weight to how much a kind sentence really changed the course of my day, and therefore my outlook on what had happened earlier and how I could try to make it right. What if we had that kind of perspective in any tough situation where there seems to be no resolve?
I thought about the catering manager, and how she had brought up all these emotions in me without displaying any of her own. What if we showed a modicum of empathy or understanding when another person is upset?
I hope that one day, we can all keep in perspective how other people walking this Earth can be affected by the things we do, good and bad. Maybe then, we won’t have to have a day on the calendar to make sure there are extra efforts made to do what should be, what can be, so simple.
Until that happens, let me say that on behalf of The Nelson Company, although we are not perfect, we are here for you. There’s room on our couch.
We are committed to spreading the message of kindness, laughter & inclusion among all walks of life, but especially adults as we model behavior for the next generation. Join the movement with us on social media with our custom designs for your platform pages to celebrate World Kindness Day 2018, and get a sneak peek of our Kindness boutique launching on 11/13! Don’t forget to use #thereisroomonourcouch when you post so we can follow you!
Our Kindness Boutique launches on World Kindness Day, November 13th 2018. This year, we are in partnership with United Way - 50% of proceeds from this collection will go to their efforts! United Way improves lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.