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Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell. photo credit - Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@chaplaineliza

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