Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Kind

I frequent my university cafeteria more than I would like to admit. As an international student living on campus with twelve other international students in a cramped kitchen, it is often my escape to go sit for an hour with a whopping portion of comfort food and my iPad, catching up on the news. I usually see the same cafeteria worker and we always have a lively exchange, though half the time I can't hear him because he speaks softly and they play loud music to appeal to young students. He often makes fun of my food choices, especially if I choose a green smoothie to go with my meal. I always ask him how he's doing and how his day has been. 

The other day, I had that horrible "oh no" moment where I was out of cash, but assumed I had my bank card. Well. I didn't. It had been stuffed in a handbag compartment, so no worries there, but I literally had nothing to pay for the food sitting on my tray. I had American cards on me, which would have helped in any other restaurant, but the campus system can't register them. Instead of sending me back out the door empty handed, he just gave me the food and told me to come back the next day. I was shocked. I was so thankful, he spoke even lower and told me to keep it between us, and to only talk to him the next day to pay it back. 

I wanted to cry from his kindness. He didn't have to give me free food, but he did, knowing that I would come back the next day. Well I came back the next day, purchased a full meal, and when I went to pay for the meal I owed, he said, "No, no bother. You came back, we got business on our slow night, s'no worries. Can't let young students starve." Again, I was shocked. Not only did he let me off the hook, but I got a free dinner! I'm definitely not a poor student, but it is amazing that this man would think of the stomach of the student before the bank account of the university. 

I have always tried to live my life with kindness as my guiding mantra. Even though I do not always rise up to the challenge, I find it to be one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity. I think that everyone deserves kindness. Random acts of kindness like the one from my dear elderly cafeteria friend remind me that there are good people out there. It inspires me to do more, to give the benefit of the doubt, to give second chances, and ultimately to be kind.

Have you experienced a random act of kindness? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 


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