from the blog

Finding Kindness on the Side of the Highway

It started like every other drive to my son’s school.  We had just dropped my daughter off at her bus stop, and we were laughing, listening to music, and hoping to make it to his school on time.

But then I noticed that my car’s hood was vibrating and starting to lift up as I accelerated on the highway.  It must not have been closed properly.  I looked around and realized the shoulder of the highway was under construction, so I had to keep driving another half mile or so before I could stop.  

My heart was racing, and I kept swearing, though I barely ever do this in front of my kids.  I was genuinely afraid that the hood of my car was going to open and smash my windshield, and the seconds were passing by in slow motion.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.  Just pull over,” my son kept saying.

When I finally had a little space to pull over I did, and then waited until there was a break in traffic so I could safely open my door.  I found the instruction manual for the car (which is relatively new), and figured out how to open and close the hood.  I flashed my son a thumbs up sign through the front window of the car, and I saw him let out a huge sigh of relief, before noticing that his chin started to tremble.  Realizing the danger had passed, his emotion came to the surface, and I knew exactly how he felt, because I felt the same.  It had been scary, and we didn’t know how it would turn out.

As I climbed back into the car, we were both trying to process what had happened.  And then my phone started to ring.  My screen said it was one of my daughter’s former teachers, who no longer taught at her school.  “Why would he be calling me now?,” I thought.  “It must be a mistake,” I said out loud, as I sent his call to voicemail.

A few seconds later he texted me.  “Hey Ali, You have car trouble?  Thought I saw you on [the highway].  I left you a message via phone too.  Hope all is well.”

I couldn’t believe he’d seen me, known who I was, and gone out of his way to reach out to me (via both phone and text).  It meant so much to me (after such a scary few moments) that tears sprang to my eyes.  I had been afraid, and someone had seen me and offered help.  That small thing meant so much to me.

“You know how I’m always talking about being kind?,” I asked my son.  “See how big it can feel when someone is kind even in a small way?”  He nodded, as a tear escaped my eyes.  

A day later, I’m still thinking about this kindness and feeling grateful for it.  Whenever I experience kindness like this, it makes me want to be kinder to the people around me, because I see how big a deal it can be.  Kindness leaves ripples we can’t know about.  Let’s find ways to be kind today, even in ways that feel very small.  Because chances are, they’re not small at all.