Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2015/ Four Kindnesses

Four Kindnesses

Today I decided to take a long bike ride to Stratford. I had expected the day to be an adventure, but instead it was a misadventure: several things went wrong, and I screwed up again and again. But the day was also remarkable; several people offered me acts of kindness. Before the memories of these kindnesses evaporate from my head, I want to write them down.

I wanted to try taking the Erb Street route to Stratford on this trip. That proved to be a mistake, because on the outskirts of Waterloo I ran over a huge metal screw and punctured my rear tire really badly. I had a spare tube and a pump, so dejectedly I set about taking out the old tube and replacing it with a new one. Many cars zoomed past me as I carried out this surgery, but as I was inflating the new tube a lady showed me the first kindness of the day. She stopped her car and checked in with me, asking whether I needed a ride. As it turns out I did not need a ride, but I appreciated her concern.

Heading back towards Waterloo on my new tube, I passed by a Canadian Tire, and recklessly decided to use my emergency money to purchase a new tube and tire, thus spending $26 to make a second attempt for Stratford that morning. My bike pump is not that good, so I decided to pump my new tire at the gas station, which charges a dollar to use the air compresser. That is when a man offered me a second kind act of the day: he was pumping his car tires as well, so offered to let me pump my rear wheel on his loonie. I shouldn't have taken him up on his offer, but I did, and pumped up my tire for free.

I then proceeded down Erb Street. As I had never taken this route to Stratford before, I got lost and confused. I knew I needed to take a turn someplace, but my map was not very good and I could not figure out the turnoff point. I went down some dirt road and encountered a woman jogging with her dog. She offered me the most important kindness of the day: directions. In doing so, she saved me a lot of hassle. I am surprised that she was willing to stop and talk; I was a strange-looking, possibly threatening male, and she was a lone jogger on a dirt road.

Thanks to her directions, I got on the proper path and made my way to Stratford. There I had a pretty good day. Stratford is a lovely place to visit even if you are not watching a play.

Just before it was time to go home I visited the boathouse snack stall for my second (!) ice cream cone of the day. I ordered the cone but then dropped it on the ground while trying to get my wallet in my pants. The person at the stall gave me a replacement cone for free, even though it was entirely my fault that I dropped the first one. He didn't need to do that. I felt bad about dropping the cone, but not being seven years old I was not traumatized. I still feel guilty for taking the replacement, but I took it with gratitude.

All four of these kindnesses were voluntary. None were necessary. One way to interpret this story is that there is no justice in the world, since I am rarely kind to others (and often I go out of my way to avoid being kind). But I am choosing to interpret this story with gratitude. I do not know why people were so kind to me, but these acts of kindness made my vacation day much better. Maybe Stuart McLean is right, and most people are mostly good most of the time.

There were many other ways people showed kindness towards me today. Although some of them were more systematic (and thus less voluntary) I appreciate them all:

A few people were not as kind to me today, but overall the kindness far outweighed any unkindness.

Often I do not pay attention to all of the things that have to go right in order for me to get anything accomplished in this world. I hope today was an exception.