A little kindness contextualized

Did you ever have a simple act of kindness give you a lesson?

I’m on a Capital District Transportation Authority local transit bus one evening, going part of the way home up the hill before riding my bike the rest of the way. I had used my Navigator card, which is actually half fare because I’m… older.

A young woman got on the bus, but her Navigator card had insufficient funds. (The voice on the machine sounds REALLY loud to me, possibly, I posit, for maximum embarrassment.)

I had, until that day, another, full-price, card which I kept in case my wife and/or daughter are riding on the bus with me. Unfortunately the Daughter misplaced her school ID during the last week of school, which she also used to pay the CDTA fare; talk about your short-timer’s syndrome.

Ruffling through my wallet, I found a THIRD card. Where did THAT come from? Maybe I got it for free at the 2017 Tulip Festival, when they were first promoting the service. I offered the card to the young woman, with a caveat that I didn’t know if it worked at all.

It did. Hey, I’ve been there, when I’m a little short on cash. A couple blocks later, she came up to me and offered me about 45 cents, as she noted, “This is what I found in my purse.”

Once upon a time, I might have waved off her offer. This time I took it, not because I needed the change, but because I wanted to honor her feelings. She wanted to do that small thing, and it would have been ungracious to reject it.

I think we do that a lot, keep people from maintaining their sense of dignity when they’re on the receiving end of a little kindness, a modicum of charity, under the thought, “They need it more than I.” But when they want to pay it back, or pay it forward, it’s important to let them.

Trust me on this; I’ve been there.

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