When was the last time you took a chance and stuck you neck out to do the right thing?
Here’s the scene. You are on staff of a respectable establishment and notice him as soon as he enters the building. He stands out for two reasons. 1. Because he is carrying a cute little girl on his shoulders and 2. because he seems to be a bit unstable on his feet. He spends 15 minutes browsing around with the little girl. He completes a transaction at the counter with one of your colleagues and lifts the little girl back on his shoulders and seems to stagger across the parking lot to his car.
What questions come to mind? Do you check-in with your colleagues to see if they have any suspicions? Should we say anything? What do we say? How will this guy respond? And who’s going to speak to him?
You have until he straps the little girl into her car safety seat to make a decision before he gets behind the wheel and drives away. Do you risk embarrassment or even a possible confrontation? What do you do?
Here’s what happened. The decision is made to confront him and you’re the one to do it. You walk swiftly out the main door and across the parking lot. The man notices you behind him as he lifts his head after fastening in the little girl into her car seat. You take a breath and ask the obvious question, “Excuse me sir, have you been drinking?”
The pause after that question while the man collects his thoughts at the abrupt nature of the question might have created anxiety if you had time to imagine the consequences of all possible responses.
He replies, “No. I haven’t been drinking.” He assures you and continues to explain, ”I have Parkinson’s Disease and that makes my right foot flop when I walk.”
You reply with the conviction of your values, “If you have been drinking we wouldn’t want you to drive away with that little girl in the car.”
His eyes fill with tears as he thanks you for the courage and kindness it must have taken you to come out and check with him about the safety risk to him and his child. He is obviously profoundly moved by your caring.
This is true story. I know because I was the man and the little girl was my 2 year old daughter Hannah. She loves the library and we had just signed out several Christmas books including, as she calls it, a book on “Crosty the Snowman.” I don’t know the name of the librarian that came out to talk with me. But I do know one thing, that such acts of courageous kindness are what make the world beautiful place. And given the true meaning of Christmas, is much closer to a gift of love than any boxing week sale items we can score.
My heartfelt wish for you as the New Year rolls out is to celebrate life and it’s infinite possibilities for love by embracing opportunities to do the right thing and help others with courageous kindness.