This happened last week.
I had just gotten off work (I work an on-campus job at my university) and was heading out to one of my classes, but I thought I’d grab a French vanilla cappuccino from the campus Tim Horton’s on the way. I was standing in line when I was approached by a woman, probably in her 50s.
“Excuse me… um excuse me,” I heard from the relatively short lady, a height of 5 ft., “can you tell me where is the GO bus?”
The building we were in was far from the university bus loop. I thought for a moment as to what instructions would be easiest for the lady to remember and follow. I gave her the names of a few buildings that would fall on the route, so she could stop again and ask someone else along the way for these milestones.
I said I could take her, as I was heading in that direction, but I just had to wait in the Tim’s line.
“No no is okay, thank you,” she said. She seemed like she was in a hurry. A couple of minutes passed and the Tim’s line wasn’t shortening any (if you go to my university, you know what I mean) and I was worried I wouldn’t make it to my class on time. So I left my spot in the line. I saw the same lady with a confused look on her face; she still hadn’t left the building. I called out to her.
“I can take you to the GO buses if you’d like. I’m just heading that way.”
“Thank you, oh thank you!” she said as she followed me. We talked as we traversed through the maze of buildings on campus. She told me she was going to visit her granddaughter at another university in a city not too far from Toronto, and she didn’t want to drive there so her granddaughter advised that she take the GO bus. I asked her about her granddaughter, and she asked me about my school/major and what was just a simple five-minute assisted walk seemed like a pleasant strangerly (I’m aware that’s not a word) encounter.
When we got to the bus loop, I told her that this is where all the GO buses are. I wasn’t sure exactly which one she was looking for, and I told her I’d help her look if I wasn’t in a rush to get to class. She thanked me (again). But what really got me was her eyes when she was expressing her gratitude.
She stood relatively far from me, so she could look at my face from her smaller height. Her eyes watered, and she said, “Thank you… thank you so much for being so polite. You are a wonderful young lady.” I smiled in response, but that wasn’t all.
She went on to tell me that she didn’t expect someone young at university to be so courteous/kind/helpful/polite (these are her words, not mine) and she said thank you about four more times before she said “God bless you” and headed off.
I did something nice (not even going significantly out of my way) for someone I didn’t even know. This deed that needed very little effort from my side, but it had such a big impact on this lady who was trying to get to her granddaughter. She genuinely believed she wouldn’t find anyone “nice” in the “youngster” crowd at the university. Although my experience with this was a positive one, I actually found it somewhat embarrassing that a 50-year-old woman can’t come to a university campus in Toronto and think that the 20-something-year-olds that are here will treat her with respect and politeness and show some common courtesy. That’s sad for our generation. To be honest, I don’t think we’re as evil or hateful or rude as people think we are. Young people are nice people, maybe just misunderstood. There’s a lot of good in us that sometimes stays hidden under the blasting iPod music or the drugs or the club hopping or even the stress of school. But being good is… good. And trust me, it’s not that hard.
If you see someone drop a $20 bill unknowingly, pick it up and give it to them. If someone spills their coffee getting out of the Tim’s line, pass them tissues if you can. If you see someone running for the bus you’re already on, ask the bus driver to wait 10 seconds.
Maybe it’s true that karma can be a b*tch. Just do your part and remember to pay it forward. Eventually, the good will come back to you.