Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness in Rome

We've all seen the bumper sticker and heard the phrase: practice random acts of kindness.

Do you?

I try to. I knock on doors when I see cars parked with their lights on. I give homeless men & women the granola bars and sleeves of Ritz crackers I carry around for my kids. I let people merge in traffic, hold doors open and generally try to be nice all day long. Have you ever wondered what these random acts of kindness mean to the recipient? Sometimes something very small can have a very big impact.

My story is from 1989 but it has stayed with my all this time and is worthy of sharing. I was 19 when I spent 6 months traveling Europe using my grandparents apartment in Hungary as my home base. I was in Rome when I bought three over-sized postcards to send to family in the US and to my grandparents in Hungary. I spoke Hungarian fairly well but writing it was another matter! I sat in a cafe and wrote thoughtfully about my travels on all three postcards and was especially proud of my postcard written in Hungarian to my grandparents (it had a picture of the Pope on it, by the way). I addressed the postcards and then made my way to a post office to buy special stamps for the over-sized postcards. Somehow along the way all three postcards fell out of my pocket. I was so disappointed! The next day I bought three normal sized postcards and hurriedly wrote shorter messages, stamped them and dropped them in a mailbox. After a fun 6 weeks in Italy I returned to my grandparent's house in Hungary. I was shocked to see the Pope's smiling face on an over-sized postcard tucked into the wooden frame of my grandmother's china cabinet. Someone had found my postcards, bought postage for them and mailed them. I've always thought of this as one of the highlights of that 6 months in Europe. A big city like Rome can be gritty in the way big cities are but my postcards were found by a nice stranger who took the time to do something kind. There is no way to ever know who this stranger was but this simple act of kindness has remained with me and makes my memories of Rome even sweeter. I'm sure it never crossed the nice stanger's mind that this story would be told so many years later.

Next time you see an opportunity to do something nice for someone go fot it. You will feel good, the other person will feel good and it might just have a lasting impact in ways you didn't even imagine. A seemingly simple act of kindness can be so appreciated that it's affects might be felt forever!

Rome, 1989

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