So Small It’s Often Overlooked

Melody - wichita, Kansas
Entered on March 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

It’s difficult to believe in something when so often you see what seems to be the exact opposite. Yet in everyday life, when this phenomenon occurs, it sparks a new belief that the world and all the people in it are beautiful in every way, shape, and form. And so, I believe in random acts of kindness.

It’s not a belief that was ignited by some pivotal moment where I witnessed someone save a life or contribute a large sum of money to some charity, not that I’m saying those gestures don’t deserve any praise, because they do. Rather, it’s been an ongoing belief that is renewed by those small gestures of kindness observed in strangers in everyday life settings. It’s these small gestures, so small that they are often overlooked, in which I believe.

I suppose I recognized my strong belief in this as I was driving home one day after school. It was like any other day, filled with neither too much excitement nor boredom. I was just spacing out in my own little world, when a large SUV/truck began to drive my small Toyota Camry off the road. Because I was in a fairly good mood, I simply honked my horn to alert the other driver and resumed my normal day, rather than allow some patronizing thoughts and perhaps a few expletives through my mind. Then, it happened. As I was pulling up to a red light, the same driver slowed down next to me and offered the small gesture of sincerely apologizing, and then went on with his day. That’s it.

Months after that, and completely unrelated, I went to the local Freddy’s Frozen Custard with a friend for a short break after school. I ordered fries and a vanilla shake, but after some time, realized I never got my shake. After apologies were given and an offer to upgrade my shake to a larger size, I rejected the offer, thinking it was only a simple mistake, no big deal, and I thought that would be the end of it. Despite my rejection to a larger shake, the manager gave me a coupon for a free shake, provided by him.

That’s all it takes. People returning wallets, giving back dropped money to the person ahead of them in line, helping someone pick up dropped books, or just holding the door or elevator for a person lagging behind a little bit. It’s these small gestures that reveal the good in people, regardless of how tough they appear or how bad their record looks. It’s these small gestures that encourage me to do the same, in hopes of inspiring an innocent bystander to pass on the kindness. It’s these sorts of gestures that give Anne Frank’s beliefs a deeper meaning. As with her, “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”