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A not-so-random, random act of kindness.

November 14, 2013

The other night I was picking my son up at his friend’s house. When I arrived, it was already dark outside. I had to make a u-turn in front of the house, and when I did I heard a crunch that sounded like two metal objects colliding. I looked behind me and noticed a red car in front of the next door neighbor’s house. Oh, crap. Did I hit it? I got out of my car and walked over. It seemed a bit too far away to be the object of my destruction, and sure enough, when I inspected it I hadn’t hit it. But as I walked back to my own car I noticed the neighbor’s mailbox lying on the ground and all of their mail scattered on the grass. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I hadn’t destroyed their car, only their mailbox; still, part of me wanted to pretend that the whole incident had never happened, to go get my son—and bolt. I could easily have gotten away with it; no one would ever have known that I was the culprit. Instead, I walked up to their front door and rang the bell.

“Hello. So, so nice to meet you,” a smiling woman greeted me. I quickly told her who I was and my business for being there, but she just continued smiling, and invited me in. We chatted for a minute and then her husband come downstairs to meet me, followed by their two teenage daughters. I swear it was like old home week. They were all so gracious, thanking me profusely for letting them know what had happened and assuring me that everything would be all right. The husband was very handy, they said. He shook his head in agreement and then went outside and got the mailbox. He showed me how it had been hanging onto its post with its last legs (most of the screws were missing), and said that the next time I wanted to knock down a mailbox I’d have a much tougher fight. Everyone chuckled. I thought that they were going to invite me for dinner. I would have loved to join them. After that, I quickly wrote down my name and phone number, saying that I would pay for whatever expenses they incurred. They humored me then sent me on my way.

Later that evening, I kept playing the entire incident over and over in my mind—thinking how it could have all turned out so differently had they been a different family. But no. Instead of making me feel terrible and like a stupid fool they made me feel like the Queen of Sheba. It was absolutely amazing. I wondered if I had just been extremely lucky or if something more had happened. Perhaps, it was a little of both. Looking back, I think that, at the time I knew who I really was—a kind person who treats people with respect—and that when you know who you are others know that about you, too, and treat you in kind.


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Gail Harris Author