I met a man at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago…no, this is not going where your mind just went. It’s a story about how everything you do, good or bad, has a ripple effect. You may never know the consequences of your actions. Please read on, it’s a story about kindness.
In conversation with the man I met, Brian, I was telling a story about my dad. There was a time when my father had to account for every nickel of his paycheck, literally every nickel.
Every day my dad drove a fellow teacher to work and home again. She was not able to drive so she paid dad five dollars a week for his kindness. Considering it was the 1960’s, five dollars covered gas for the car and then some. He would have done it just because it was the right thing to do.
My dad taught in what would be considered an “inner city” school. Many of the kids in dad’s fifth-grade class arrived at school without having breakfast. They may have gone to bed without dinner. When the milk cart came to his classroom, dad made sure every child had a five-cent carton of milk to start the day.
Brian was a student teacher in dad’s classroom fifty-something years ago and observed this act of kindness play out every day. It turns out Brian grew up in a dysfunctional family. Witnessing an adult display this small act of kindness, buying a carton of milk for a child, gave Brian an example of a compassionate adult and role model for life.
Brian added that for fifty-something years he has been telling the story of this kind teacher and how it influenced his own life in a positive way. But Brian did not remember the man’s name. To be sure Brian was talking about my dad, I shared a story about a learning tool my dad built for his class to learn the state capitals. Yes, it was the same man.
Was it a coincidence that Brian and I met that night? I don’t think so. Brian has the name of the man who made a positive impact on him so long ago. For me, it confirms what I already know about my father, he was a kind man. Every child who received a carton of milk felt the impact of that nickel and so did everyone who observed the act of kindness.
Everything you do…