Kindness & Unintended Consequences

A guest post by Kerry.  We are still taking applications for The Simple Year 4.  Details here.

It stands to reason that kind acts will make the world a better place, right?   Everybody knows that.  There are whole websites, movements and movies dedicated to random acts of kindness.    Woodstock and Snoopy have been asserting it on cards and posters since the 70’s and early man wrote it on cave walls.  (that is my interpretation of those stick figures and my guess is as good as any).

See, it says right there-Kindness is Contagious, Pass it On

See, it says right there, “Kindness is Contagious, Pass it On”

I agree that conceptually and in the grand scheme of things, that is true.  All kind acts are important.

But, have you ever had a kind act take a wrong turn?

Example #1

In my last post I mentioned a list of ten simple acts I was going to start incorporating in my day-to-day life.  Which I did, including the one about letting people ahead of me in traffic.    Last week, I was in a line of  bumper to bumper traffic waiting to exit a gate.  I noticed a car on a side street waiting to get in.

A perfect opportunity for me to practice what I preach, I stopped my slow creep and signaled for him to go ahead.   By the time he realized my intentions, the line ahead of me had advanced half a block or so and the young woman behind apparently did not read my blog post.  In an effort to hasten her departure, she seized the opportunity to drive around my stopped car at the exact moment that the man pulled in front of me.


Yes, she actually hit him.

My kind act caused a car accident.  (OK, really she caused the car accident, but you know what I mean)

Fortunately, there was minimal damage and they both drove away.

Example #2

I listed two kids ski helmets as a free giveaway on a local garage sale Facebook page.  When about six or seven people chimed in that they would like them, I tried to spread the wealth and give one to each of the first two responders.

Well, that started a weird avalanche of comments and critiques.  The first woman said that if she couldn’t have both, she didn’t want them because she had two kids and “they just wouldn’t stand for that”.  That is a quote and I’m not even sure what she meant by it.  Then there was a discussion on who had “dibs” and so on and so forth.  I didn’t even respond, but the whole conversation made me so irritated, I just turned off my computer.

But, I wanted to lecture them about manners and being gracious and thankful.

But, I didn’t.

But, I actually lost sleep while stewing over it.

Both incidents have been a good reminder that the only person I’m in control of is me.  I did eventually manage to give the helmets to someone who seemed appreciative and I have let several other people into traffic without any kerfuffles.

So, that’s not so bad.


3 Responses to Kindness & Unintended Consequences

  1. I appreciated your list…some of which I try to do regularly..I’d just decided to do at least one good deed a day. It was raining, rare in Phoenix, and I had to walk to the food bank. As I was crossing the street, one of the food bank clients was trying to put a infant in a car seat with the rain pouring down the back of her neck. Perfect opportunity to provide shelter. It felt great. I was happy I happened by at the right moment. Keep up the positive thoughts. (Yes, I’m still at Desert Mission ..11 years. Not a bad second career,)

  2. I got honked at today in the school parking lot because I stopped to let a half dozen or so cars come IN off the street, which was backed up way past the length of the turn lane and into an actual lane of traffic. I held up one whopping car for total of about 30 seconds. She was on her phone during morning drop off with all the high school kids driving. And she honked. I actually couldn’t believe it. So I decided to let another half dozen or so cars go until the line wasn’t busting out of the turn lane into the actual road. When she finally looked up from her phone, she realized what was happening and actually waved at me like she was sorry.

    I’ll let people in tomorrow, too, because someday soon that will be my kid stuck in the turn lane waiting and waiting for someone to let a few cars in.

    I’ve also gotten the totally ungrateful for gifts backlash for trying to do a good deed. If nothing else, it’s a great teaching moment for my kiddos 🙂

    Hoping you find an awesome person for you Simple Year 4!

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