Sharing her own life story and thoughts on kindness, author Elizabeth Moore is here today. Read more about Elizabeth below her story. Thank you very much, Elizabeth!
Is Kindness Overrated?
By E. C. Moore
I suppose I could say kindness is overrated, if I were speaking about the sort of false humanity masquerading as kindness these days, especially on the Internet. So many causes, so many tragedies, so many sad stories greet us on any given day, and all that is required is a click of the LIKE button to show empathy. We sympathized—as easy as that. No need to do anything more.
But, I’ve been the beneficiary of true kindness enough times to recognize true kindness when I see it. Clicking a button to show sympathy doesn’t begin to meet the requirement. Good deeds, whether small or large, entail personal commitment. And let’s face facts, personal commitment is being replaced by virtual exchanges that require little more than a few hastily-typed words of compassion in response to adversity and need. End of story. Moving right along to the next post…why, just look at that adorable baby animal photo, how good it feels to put that unpleasantness behind!
I married too young. We eloped. My brand-new husband had just dropped me off on his way to work. As I lugged my heavy suitcase down the hallway to our newly-rented, partially furnished apartment, I met the woman from the across the hall. She introduced herself and began to bombard me with endless questions. When she learned that one so young (I was eighteen but looked even younger) had just gotten married, she placed one hand over her heart and said, “I ran away to get married too. It won’t be easy you know.” I had already come to that conclusion on my own, and it hurt to hear it spoken aloud. When she finally said goodbye I unlocked the door and hurried inside.
The kitchen was tiny. I opened the refrigerator and pondered the cold empty shelves. I’d never had a bank account and didn’t have a penny to my name. My new husband would be my sole source of income. My stomach churned.
I hurried to the bathroom, and after I had finished using the facilities I realized there was no toilet paper. There were no towels, no shampoo, no sheets on the bed, no staples, no pots and pans, no silverware! My heart pounded wildly as a question screamed through my panic-stricken mind. How would we be able to afford the necessities needed to set up housekeeping?
A knock came at the door. Through the peephole, I saw the familiar face of the woman from across the hall. What a relief!
She rushed in and set a big box down on the dinette table. “You’ll need all this and more,” the kind-hearted woman told me, “Look inside.” I opened the flaps and began to pull out various items: a sauce pan, fryer and stock pot, salt and pepper shakers, spatulas and wooden spoons, dishtowels, potholders, plastic canisters, measuring cups and spoons, a nesting set of mixing bowls, four dinner plates, miss-matched mugs, silverware, and a dog-eared copy of The Joy of Cooking. I can’t remember what I said. I’m positive I didn’t express the gratitude I felt and she deserved. Overcome by her generosity, my response was inadequate at best.
Three years later. We had just purchased a house of our own, it wasn’t located where we wanted to live but the place was affordable and we planned to fix it up and sell. After two days suffering fevers from a terrible flu that had sent the two of us and our small son to our bed, I woke up feeling much better and ravenous, as I was eight months pregnant. It was just after eight o’clock at night. The cupboards were bare, so I told my husband I was taking our son out to pick up some wonton soup from the drive-thru Chinese place. I hopped in our pick-up truck and took off. It was then that I realized how light-headed I felt. As I made my way down the wide boulevard the truck began to sputter and I ran out of gas, just managing to pull over to the side of the road across the street from a huge city park. This was in the age before cell phones. I had better find a pay phone.
I held my tiny son’s hand as we approached a cluster of buildings. No phone in sight. A group of men played basketball. One, sitting on the sidelines called out, “Hey, pregnant wonder, what are you doing here?”
“Is there a pay phone nearby?” I squeaked.
“You in trouble?” another voice rang out from behind me. I whirled around to see a big, scary looking man. The sight of him frightened me and I promptly snatched up my son.
“I think she’s lost,” the one from the sidelines called.
The big man squinted. “You lost, cupcake?” he growled, proceeding too close for comfort, so close I could smell the alcohol on his breath.
Another voice rang out, this one female. “There you are!” she cried. I flinched when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. “Let’s get out of here,” she said as she gave me a slight push. I followed the woman with the long hair across the lawn and towards the boulevard. “What are you doing out here?” she asked.
I relayed my story in her VW bus as she drove me to her house. I watched her fetch a spouted can from the side of the garage. Once we returned to my truck and she poured enough gas in my tank to get me to a station, she insisted on following me there. “Drive straight home,” she said once my tank was full, “This town is full of assholes and perverts. I’m getting out ASAP, going back to Arizona, just as soon as I save up enough money. Don’t you know you shouldn’t venture out at night? Ever!” I can’t remember what I said. I’m positive I didn’t express the gratitude I felt and she deserved. Overcome by her generosity, my response was inadequate at best.
These are but only two accounts of kindness from strangers, friends and loved ones I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from. The list of kind people I’ve encountered is too long to clog up Anita’s blog. I do my best to “pay it forward” whenever possible. When the elderly woman in line in front of me at the market doesn’t have enough to pay for her cabbage and onions, I kick in the extra eighty cents. When a friend’s brother finds out he has a brain tumor and needs money to come back home, I donate what I can spare. It’s not always about money though—the giving of our time is usually the greatest gift.
If someone tells you kindness is overrated, how will you respond?
About the author
EC Moore is the author of INCURABLE, to be released by Booktrope Publishing July 2015. When Elizabeth’s not writing feverishly, you will find her out walking or sightseeing. She’s crazy about coffee, books, cooking, good wine, cairn terriers, miniature ponies, historical houses, tapas, and witty people.
She resides in a fifties bungalow in Southern California, with her creative-director husband, a yappy blonde dog, and one feisty Chihuahua.