Steve Phan is an interpreter in the Washington DC area. You would think that since I also fit that description, he and I would run into each other from time to time. Alas, we do not, but I enjoy his antics via Facebook very much. You see, not only is he an interpreter, he is also, as he so aptly tags himself, the #1PageantPhan. He loves, no, he adores pageants. He judges them. He is friends with lots of beauty queens. He watches and re-watches the national pageants (he buys the DVDs!). Do you know the people you see in the background of some shots during the Miss America Pageant, the folks seated (or standing and jumping) in the audience waving flags for their favorite beauty queens? That’s STEVE. Be sure to tune in to Miss America September 9th, you might catch him in Atlantic City waving a big Maryland flag and grinning from ear to ear.
|Here's Steve! Look for him in the audience of the Miss America Pageant.|
Not only is he a Pageant Phan, he is also a super kind person. For example, he sends his friends greeting cards all the time. Oh, and Steve doesn’t send the .99 cent Trader Joe’s cards either! This guy shops for his stationary goods at Papyrus! (If you haven’t been in a Papyrus, let me just say, they are not for those of us on a budget.)
But the kindness Steve is being recognized for here is not for being nice to pageant contestants. Nor is it for keeping the US Postal Service in business with mailing cards. No, it is for sunscreen. Meet Steve, the Sunscreen Kindness Activist.
Steve is a timeshare owner and recently visited Palm Desert, California for five days. He is a frequent flyer so knows the TSA rules, but tried to buck the system by packing three 5 oz bottles of sunscreen in his carry-on bag. He told me, “I know the restriction is for 3-oz containers, but I was hoping they would let me take 5-oz containers with me. After all, what’s a couple of ounces?”. Yeah, right Steve. Of course, the TSA confiscated all of his sunscreen at the airport, forcing him to pop into the Target in Palm Springs to pick up a pack of two 8 oz sunscreens that were on sale.
|Steve (I am guessing slathered in sunscreen) at Joshua Tree National Park|
The building next to his timeshare was undergoing renovations and Steve watched the construction crew work day in and day out in the above 90-degree temperatures all week. He used some sunscreen but realized near the end of his stay that he had a whole unopened bottle left. Having learned his lesson with the TSA, he knew he couldn’t bring the bottle back home with him. So that’s when he decided to give it to one of construction workers!
He told me, “I saw a construction worker get in his truck. I grabbed the unused bottle of sunscreen and approached his vehicle. He rolled down his window, and I explained that as a timeshare owner, I appreciated the work he and his colleagues did. I said I was leaving the next day, had an extra bottle of sunscreen, and wanted to give it to him.
The worker was shocked and said, ‘For me?’
I said, ‘Yes!’
He then asked, ‘For free?’. I think he couldn't believe I was not selling it to him.
I responded, ‘Yes, thank you for all the work you do,’ as I gestured towards the building being renovated.
He grinned from ear to ear, accepted my gift, and said he would use it the next day.”
Isn’t that great? I can just picture the construction worker, staring at Steve holding out the bottle of sunscreen with a big smile on his face. What a surprise that must have been! Steve said that he was really glad the sunscreen wouldn’t go to waste, and that the recipient would use it immediately.
“I have been the recipient of so many kind acts by others that I wanted to pay it forward. I believe there is so much unhappiness in the world that if I can help someone smile with a small act of kindness, then perhaps I can do my part to make the world a better place.” I totally agree with you there, friend. Seemingly small acts, like sharing sunscreen, can mean so much to the recipient!
|Here's Steve on vacation TAKING A WEBINAR for work. |
Steeeeve - vacation is for resting!
Remember how I mentioned Steve sending cards to his friends? It turns out that he, like most other Kindness Activists I have interviewed, learned that from his parent. “My mother, who has since passed away, taught me to do kind things for others. One of my fondest memories of her is watching her pick out the perfect card for a friend. She would take her time pouring through various cards at the store to find the one with just the right sentiment. She often mailed cards to friends just because she was thinking of them. I follow her example, and my work locker is chock full of cards and stationery which I use to write my friends just because. A few weeks ago, I was missing my mother as Mother's Day was approaching. I decided to mail Mother's Day cards to the many influential women in my life in honor of my mother. It brought me great joy when they e-mailed, texted, and posted on social media about receiving my card.”
I bet your kind gesture made those friends’ Mother’s Days even more special this year. And what a sweet way to honor your own mom.
And it turns out that not only does he DO kind things, he JOURNALS about it. “For my birthday last November, I had asked my husband to give me a copy of a kindness journal I had seen in a museum gift shop. I have been using the journal's prompts to regularly reflect on showing kindness to others and the kind acts others do for me.” I love that journal! And I totally agree that taking time to reflect on kindness serves to bring even more kindness into your life. That’s one of the reasons I started this Kindness Activist project!
|Steve's journal - isn't it great??|
As he often does online, Steve closed his communication to me with something pageant related. “One of my favorite quotes is from Miss Canada 1995, Lana Buchberger, who said, ‘Never stop experiencing life. From experience, you learn to grow. By growing, you learn to give. And by giving, you let others experience life.’ “
Thanks for being a shining example of kindness Steve. You made that construction worker’s day a lot brighter with your gift, and being willing to share your story here reminds us all that sometimes we don’t even need to go very far out of our way to be kind to someone – if we just keep our eyes and hearts open opportunities for kindness are all around.