Thing #40. Be kinder than necessary.
Be kinder than necessary.
Doug and I came across this phrase recently written in white letters on a small blue billboard at the edge of a tiny Utah town. We looked at each other and smiled. It summarized what brought us to that small town to begin with.
We were on a road trip, driving from Idaho to our home in Colorado, when we saw a man standing on the side of the interstate, waving his arm at passing traffic, asking for help. Without hesitation, my generous, helpful husband slowed the car and pulled over. As we stopped, we saw he had a blown out tire lying on the shoulder next to his small pickup.
I don’t always go for this kind of thing. I’m afraid the person “in need” will turn out to be an ax murderer. But in this case, it was obvious he was in trouble. Besides which, he was not a big person. I figured Doug could take him. Shoot, I could probably take him. But mostly I saw him as someone who genuinely needed the kindness of strangers.
“My tire, it is bad,” he said in heavily accented English. “Where are you going?”
“We’re headed to Ogden,” Doug said.
“Good, that’s good,” the man said.
Doug threw his shredded tire into the trunk, I shifted things a bit in the backseat, and our new friend climbed in.
We learned his name is Gandhi, he lives in a small town in Idaho, and was on his way to Ogden to look for work. He and his wife have three children. We didn’t talk much. His English was pretty good, but my Spanish is muy mal. Terribles.
We pulled into the nearest town, but it was too small to have a tire store. The woman at the service station told us to try the next town over, and even recommended where to get a good deal.
Pulling into the next town over is when we saw the sign. “Be kinder than necessary.” I probably would have been kind enough to take Gandhi to the tire store. But my husband was kinder than necessary. He suggested we wait while a new tire was mounted on the rim and take him the 50 miles back to his truck. I knew it was the right thing to do. When we got back to the truck, Doug helped him change the tire.
Before we parted, Ghandi invited us to his home for dinner the next time we come to Idaho. We exchanged names and phone numbers. We just might give him a call. He said his wife makes great gorditas.
It added some time to our trip (which was already going to be a good 15 hours), but was the right thing to do. You and I need to be good to each other in this crazy world. So be kind. Kinder than necessary.
For an inspiring story of “unnecessary” kindness, watch this story from CBS Sunday Morning.