I generally stay in the habit of doing nice things for people. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s not about what you get in return for doing a good deed. It’s about spreading good will to others and making a difference with a small act of kindness. It might not seem like anything to you to do it, but it might mean a lot to the person on the receiving end. I once paid for a tank of gas for someone I didn’t know. My pastor knew the young man, though. He needed to get to Northeast Philadelphia. From where I live, that’s a least an hour’s drive. Since I didn’t know where my pastor was, I met the young man at the gas station and put gas in his car. I’ve given away things that I owned that I knew people liked. I’ve also put groceries in people’s cars for no real reason, used what bit of height I have to help people shorter than me reach things… to me, it’s nothing to do something nice for someone.
However… I think the one nice thing I did that stands out to me most involved my high school librarian.
One day, I had gone to the library during lunch, which is something I was in the habit of doing. It was February and close to Valentine’s Day. I had bought carnations for a couple of friends, because nothing’s worse than not getting anything on Valentine’s Day. I actually didn’t expect to get anything, so I decided I would give instead.
Anyhow, on this particular day, I started talking with the librarian. I usually talked to her, but this time was a little different. We started talking about Valentine’s Day, and she said something about not expecting to get anything! She had a daughter at the school, and didn’t even expect a flower from her own daughter! I’ve heard people say things and I have sympathized before, but not like this. Those words went straight to my heart. I knew I couldn’t let this woman whose been helpful to all of us kids not get anything for Valentine’s Day. If y’all remember getting valentines in school, it’s the worst when you’re that kid that doesn’t get ANYTHING. I knew I had to do something.
I went to the table where carnations were being sold. It was the last day to buy them for people. I know my dollar was allocated for lunch money, but I used one dollar from my lunch money to buy the librarian a carnation. I even put my name on it so she would know who gave it to her.
When Valentine’s Day came around, I went to to library as usual. I was smiling and cheesing because I was hoping that the librarian had received her gift. I could’t wait to find out how she reacted! I went in and said hi to her, and asked if she had gotten anything. “Oh, yes… I got this flower here”, she said reaching back for it. “It’s from (insert my name here).” I smiled even harder. “That’s me!” I said. I couldn’t hold my excitement anymore.
Her face lit up and her eyes glistened. “Oh! Oh thank you!!” she exclaimed, and almost ran around the desk to hug me. Thank God she didn’t cry because I might have been crying with her. It was something about how happy she seemed and her reaction when she found out I gave her the flower that really touched me, and remains one of my favourite nice acts. It also doesn’t hurt that she gave me heart-shaped sugar cookies with red sugar on them that looked like glitter.
It made me happy to see her that happy over a flower that only cost a dollar. Out of all my years of giving gifts, I know that it’s not about how much something costs; you have to really hear the person. They’ll tell you what they want without realizing it. Sometimes those are the best gifts. There’s also a difference between giving a gift just because and giving a gift from the heart. I think I’ll always remember this because when you give from the heart, it always yields the best results for you and the recipient.
At that point, it becomes more than a gift; you gave and showed someone some love.