How a Kind Deed Can Transform a Day

A stranger on the subway and a pack of tissues made all the difference.

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Posted in , Feb 22, 2017

Kindness toward others

We all know that Jesus urged us to treat others as we would want to be treated, to love our neighbors as ourselves. I would propose that when that happens it’s a form of prayer.

Sometimes, though, what others want to do unto you is not exactly what you’re expecting. It can take you by surprise.

The other day, a blustery winter day, I got on to the subway and sat next to a perfect stranger gazing at her phone. I took out the book I was reading.  Totally absorbed, I was lost to the world.

Now I should tell you that my wife has suggested I carry a packet of tissues with me in my parka or in my briefcase in case I ever need them. Good advice that I have never followed. This must be a guy thing; I tell myself, “When am I ever going to need tissues?”

Read More: Banking on an Angel

That blustery day, that wintery day, my nose was running. (Forgive me for going into too much detail here.) My nose was running, and I didn’t notice it.

Apparently, though, someone else did. All at once the stranger sitting next to me reached into her purse and took out a fresh packet of tissues, dangling them in front of my (dripping) nose.

I don’t mean to make her gesture sound rude. It was graciously done and kindly meant.

“Thank you,” I said, “that’s very nice of you.” I pulled a few tissues out of the packet. It was like being offered a breath mint. If someone offers you a breath mint, you take it. No questions asked.

I dabbed at my nose, grateful for the tissue. I put the second one in my pocket for reserve.

I returned to my book. She returned to whatever she was reading on her cell phone. She got off a couple of stops later. We exchanged smiles. That was all.

Later I read something in that book about generosity and how a kind deed could transform a day. I thought of the stranger. Then I put my hand in the pocket of my parka. There was the second tissue.

I like keeping it there, to remind me to be similarly, unexpectedly, modestly or even extravagantly generous. Someday I hope I make someone else’s day.

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