It was a normal Monday, quiet and simple and filled with the little weekly tasks that keep this bookstore running. Afternoon showers brook loose, temporarily flooding our store with customers seeking shelter from the heavy summer rain. On one side of the store a young man browsed the fiction section. On the other sat an older woman with a few bags and a walker. After awhile she must have decided she couldn’t wait on the rain any longer because she got up and shuffled towards the door.
The young man looked up from the book he was thumbing through and moved ahead of her to open the door. “It’s still raining,” he commented. “I’ve got an umbrella in my car, wouldn’t be any trouble for me to run get it for you.” She said thank you and he nodded with a polite, “I’ll be right back, ma’am,” before dashing off into the rain. He came back shortly, his shirt and hat polka-dotted with moisture, and held the umbrella for the woman. After he carried her bags and walked her to the car, he slipped back in the store and went about his business.
He purchased two books and I had to comment on his kindness. He responded with, “Well, I figure that will be me one day.”
It’s becoming increasingly unusual for people of my generation, (or any generation, really,) to look up from the all-consuming nature of their everyday lives and stop long enough to help someone else. But let me tell you, the quiet heroes that make it a point to make someone else’s day just a little bit better do still exist. The young man with the umbrella was not the first act of kindness I’ve witnessed in the store. Another young man offered to buy an older woman coffee when she didn’t have enough cash for the transaction. A woman gave the last few dollars left on a gift card to the people behind her in line. A gentleman gave me a fifty cent coin because I had admired the one he handed me to pay for his purchase, (I still have it, by the way.)
Let’s be honest, it’s easy to focus on the rude and selfish aspects of humanity, especially when you work in any type of customer service. However, this is not the only reality. There truly are thoughtful and honest people in this world. They may not be as loud, or as many, or as obvious as the rude and brash, but they are still there, inspiring the rest of us to follow their lead and reach out to someone else.