kindness activist

kindness activist

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ride-Sharing Kindness

The other night we had an experience that reminded me of a very easy way to spread kindness: SHARE YOUR VEHICLE.

That is something we do often – when you see someone that needs a ride, offer it. 

I guess we started doing it when we first moved into our house and our driveway was quite literally the BUS STOP for our street.  People would wait for the bus at the end of our driveway!  We ended up making friends with a man who took the bus often, and when the timing worked out and we were leaving while he was waiting for his bus, we asked if he wanted to jump in our car.  Depending on the time of day he would be headed toward work at the movie theatre or home, and we would give him a lift.  I think that is how we got started offering people rides.

Since then we do it every so often.  I remember once this year we saw a family of 3 waiting for a bus.  They were the only ones at the stop, and we could see a bus just a block away that we presumed they had just missed.  It was a weekend, meaning they were going to have a long wait for the next bus.  So we pulled around the block, came back around, and offered a ride.  In they jumped – and we took them to Best Buy, where they told us they were going to spend their tax return on a new flat screen television!  (We imagined that it might have been luckier for them if we had seen them AFTER their purchase, a tv would be hard to lug home on a bus!)

I am always on the look-out for people needing rides when I am at Arlington National Cemetery.  My partner’s parents are interred there, so we have a permit to drive in the cemetery to visit their gravesites.  But many people visiting Arlington do not have a permit, so they walk in, not realizing how huge the place is.  I always pull over and offer rides to them, especially on very hot or super cold days, or to anyone in military uniform.  They are, without exception, very grateful for the ride, and we have met some sweet people by giving them lifts.

The most recent ride we offered was in DC to a woman named Nicole this week.  We were walking a few blocks back to our car after seeing a show, and we were at a red light with her waiting to cross.  Her bus was already at the stop, and she was wishing she could rush across the street and get on it, but couldn’t cross yet.  By the time she could, the bus had pulled away, but was stuck at the red light.  We congratulated her for “making it”, then realized the bus driver wouldn’t open the door because he wasn’t at an official stop…  So, we did what we do, we offered a ride!  And she walked with us to her car and we drove her home.  She was super sweet and it was a fun ride.

Of course, I am sure that some people would say this practice of giving rides to strangers is dangerous…  And I know, it COULD be.  But we are careful who we pick up, and so far (knock on wood) have not been hit over the head or car jacked.  :)  We have been refused, most notably by an African American couple trying to hail a cab in Washington DC during a blizzard.  No cabs were stopping for them, so we pulled over.  I rolled down my passenger window and offered them a ride, and they replied by telling us in no uncertain terms NO – “Do not do that!  Do not be nice!  That is dangerous!!  You get on now!  Do not be nice!!!”  she admonished us.  (I presume “You crazy white people!!” was also going through their heads.)

Share a ride - meet a stranger
But, for us, giving rides to strangers has been lovely.  It rarely takes much time (and in the grand scheme of things, time is what we all have to share).  It doesn’t often take us too far out of our way.  And it has introduced us to some lovely people. 

I will close here by linking to a story I wrote in 2010 about one of our most rewarding experiences offering a stranger a ride.  His name was Mark.  He was homeless.  We met him by helping some other strangers try and help him up when he was stuck, turtle-like, on his back in the snow.  He had on surgical socks, no shoes (in the very, very deep snow) and was on crutches.  After getting him back to a standing position, we spent 50 minutes with him in our car talking and singing show tunes together.  I still remember how lovely it was six years later.  His story is here:  Happy Talk Keep Talkin' Happy Talk

So I guess my point is this:  you have a vehicle?  You are lucky, not everyone does.  It you see someone who could benefit from a lift, and if the situation looks safe, take a chance.  Be kind.  Open your heart, open your car door.  Give them a ride.  They will appreciate it, and it might just make your heart happy.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Moxie Kindness

This is Eileen.  She is not a BIG woman.  She is, in fact, quite petite.  But what she “lacks” in size, she makes up for in MOXIE.  Yes, moxie and kindness!  Meet Eileen, the newest Kindness Activist!!

Modeling her new Kindness Activist button!
Eileen is someone who might be described by friends using adjectives like “spunky”, “perky”, “smart”, “adorable”, “strong”, “witty”, and “talented”*, but I bet none of them thought to use “burly”.  That is, until now!  You see, EILEEN STOPPED A PURSE THIEF!! 

“What the WHAT??” I see you silently wondering.  Here’s the deal:

Eileen was minding her own business, walking to the metro in Washington DC wearing her bright pink backpack and pink Chuck Taylors.  She heard a woman behind her holler that somebody had taken her bag.  She says, “I turned around and there was a man running towards me, and in my infinite ‘flight or flight’ response, I did NEITHER, and just SAT DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK.  Because the man was running and looking behind him (at the woman he had just robbed…) he didn’t see that I had crouched in front of him and he fell over me.”

Is this not the coolest story already?  Our Activist has tripped up a bad guy!!  GO EILEEN! 
But, like many stories here, it gets even better…

You see, when he tumbled and fell over Eileen, the baddie DROPPED both the purse he had stolen and, wait for it, his own wallet!!!  Eileen grabbed both of those things as the man stumbled up and ran away.  She returned the purse to its owner and held onto the wallet until police arrived.  I asked her if the guy was hurt when he fell and we decided that his pride was probably hurt worse than his body.  This beefy young guy had been duped by our pink shoe-d hero! 

Our hero's pink shoes
When the police came Eileen gave a statement and ID’ed the guy from the identification photo in the wallet (which, honestly, could have been anyone’s wallet!  I mean, if the guy steals purses, maybe he steals wallets, too, right?  But it turned out this was the bad guy’s actual wallet – isn’t that fantastic???).  A few days later she had to go do an official police line-up – just like on tv.  

I asked Eileen what the woman did when she returned the purse to her, and she said, “She was really very appreciative.  I did not feel like a HERO.  It was more like, my brain short-circuited and thought, “Let’s go into turtle mode!”.  The whole thing took maybe a minute and a half, but it felt like an eternity.  If I had a moment to think about it I probably would have gotten out of the way and he would have run away.  But my brain literally short-circuited and I just SAT DOWN.  The cop said, ‘Usually in those types of situations we tell people not to do vigilante justice, but you just SAT DOWN.’ “

Eileen doesn't normally live in DC, she is visiting here and performing in "Beertown" by Dog and Pony, DC.  Check it out!  While in town, she took some time to explore the butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Check out Dog and Pony DC here:  Dog and Pony Website
Before the cops called to let her know they had caught the guy, she was a bit nervous walking around the city wearing the same bright pink backpack that made her so recognizable.  In hindsight, she realized there could have been other people working with the guy who saw her, the guy could have had a weapon, etc., all scary thoughts.  In summing up the experience, she said, “I hope that, from this situation, the man thinks about it and decides this is not the path for him”.

Many people would call Eileen a HERO for her actions that day.  I would add another title: KINDNESS ACTIVIST.  I can’t think of many people that I know (myself included) that would put themselves on the line like that (turtle style) to stop an injustice.  But she did it!  Way to go Eileen!
*Footnote:  all adjectives used in this description are used in a POSITIVE manner, so don’t get the wrong idea that “spunky” or “perky” are pejorative.  No siree, they are COMPLIMENTS here.
P.S. - If you know of a Kindness Activist, please tell me about them!  I am always hunting for more kind people!  Send me an email at:   And while you are at it, "like" Kindness Activist on Facebook so you can see when the next one gets named!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pizza Kindness

All my life (at least my adult life) I have been sort of obsessed with the concept of the “win ____ for ___” deals.  Like, “Win free coffee for a year!” or “Win free fried chicken for life!” or “Win free movies for a year!”.  Like, the “fill in the blanks” don’t even really matter to me, it is just the CONCEPT of being granted SOMETHING, anything really*, for a specified amount of time that seems magical to me!!  

So when I saw an announcement last night that a new pizza place was opening up in our neighborhood, and they were giving the first ten people in line FREE PIZZA FOR A YEAR…  Yeah, you could say I got a little excited… 

This is the place - 1000 Degrees Pizza!
But there was a huge glitch – I have to WORK today.  I couldn’t really stand in line from the butt crack of dawn to try and win free pizza.  Sigh. 

And that is where a KINDNESS ACTIVIST stepped in - my partner David!!  He is not as enamored of the “free ___ for ___” deals as I am, but he is quite fond of me, so he said HE OFFERED TO DO IT, HE VOLUNTEERED AS TRIBUTE TO STAND IN LINE! 

Always a Gallant, never a Goofus, that's David
Understand – David has been working a lot lately.  He has been super busy, and he has today OFF.  His only commitment today is to wait for a city inspector to come by and (hopefully) give us the thumbs up on a recent project.  So David could have slept in.  But no, he chose to be uber kind and grant my dream of “free ___ for ____”.  He got in line at the pizza place at 8:00 am and settled in as number 9!!!  Remember, the 1st TEN people got free pizza for a year – MY MAN WAS NUMBER 9!!!! 

Some of the line!!  Almost time to open up!  The guy with the folded chair was right behind David,
so all of the people behind him are there for ONE free pizza, not the infamous "FREE PIZZA FOR A YEAR"!
He got to know his line-mates, who included a couple with what seemed like a very new baby, the guy in position number 1 who got there at 5:15 am (man must love him some pizza!), a man with his teenage son who was cutting classes to score pizza (and, I am sure, spend quality time with Dad, which is cool), and others.  The funky donut shop nearby handed out free donuts to the waiters (thanks Sugar Shack!).  I rushed down and delivered a sweater (it was breezy), coffee, and a bagel. 

And David waited.
Patiently waiting
And SCORED!!!  Yes siree folks, dreams do come true.  David is the proud owner of FREE PIZZA FOR A YEAR!  He has 52 shiny coupons, each one good for a pizza (coupon value not to exceed $9.95).  Isn’t that amazing????  I am over the moon that he was kind enough to wake up early and give up his morning for me.  Heck, we almost never even EAT pizza, and when we do, we make it ourselves using Trader Joe’s dough!  Hahahaha.  But like I mentioned earlier, this whole quest isn’t about whatever fills in the blank (in this case, pizza), it is about a FULFILLING A DREAM!

David – you, my dear, are a Kindness Activist.  Not many partners would be willing to spend 3 hours patiently waiting for pizza.  I adore you.

The proud new owner with a mad rush!!

David's free pizza getting sauced

Beautiful view of the line - making pies

And for the rest of you – if you live in the DC area, check out 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza on the Pike!  It is at 3400 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA.  If you “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter, you can get a FREE 10” pizza today (Wednesday October 5, 2016).  They are open until 10:00 PM.  David brought a pizza home and it was yummy!!!    You choose your crust, sauce, cheese, meats, and veggies (they have cool stuff, too, like FETA, sundried tomatoes, chopped garlic…).  A 10” pizza was plenty big enough for the 2 of us.   I am looking at the menu and see lots of pizzas I want to try – the Buffalo Chicken, the Trenton Tomato, the Smokey Pollo…  I guess I have 52 free pizzas in my future so I can mix it up!

Kindness Activists RULE.

*footnote from paragraph one:  I guess “free stale baguettes” or “free hangnails” would not be things I would be thrilled about… 

A man and his pizza
P.S. - the inspector just came and gave our new egress window a green light, and David told him, "Hey, you know what, there is FREE PIZZA today on Columbia Pike..." and it turns out he had just inspected the restaurant!    

P.P.S. - I read this blog entry to David, and he said, "So where is my Kindness Activist button???".  Not to worry, I hooked him up with one.  


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Decoration Kindness

This kindness showed up in my inbox last holiday season.  I tried to get ahold of the person who emailed the neighborhood listserve about it, hoping that I could get a photo and ask a couple of questions, but didn’t hear back from them.  I decided to share it here anyway, because it is a great example of how a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

Here is the email that a neighbor sent to everyone on the listserve:

“Woke up this morning to find one of our holiday decorations close to the sidewalk had been severely damaged. We surmised that a dog/leash tangle was the cause and, though a bit bummed, didn't think more about it. A bit later we found a kind note at our door explaining what had happened (dog/leash tangle), an apology, and some cash to cover the loss. Thank you, neighbor, for your thoughtfulness when you could have "hit and run." To keep that good thing going, we will be donating the money to help those in need.”

So there you have it.  The person who broke the holiday decoration could have EASILY just kept walking.  No one even saw them break anything!  But no, they were KIND about it.  Even though it was likely an accident, they chose to come back, leave a note to apologize, and give the neighbor money to cover the damage. 

Neighborhood snowball fight during the blizzard of 2016
And because of THAT kindness, MORE KINDNESS rippled out into the world!!  The money left to cover the decoration damage went on to be donated to SOMEONE ELSE!  Isn’t that fabulous??  It is that “ripple effect” that this project is based on.  One kind act inspires/begets another, and another, and another…  And like ripples in a pond, kindness spreads.

More neighborhood snowball madness
BE A RIPPLE.  Get out there today and SPREAD SOME KINDNESS.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  It doesn’t have to be visible.  It just needs to be KIND.  Your action will inspire more kindness in the world, and really, isn’t that something we need? 

If you know of a Kindness Activist (big or small!) please tell me about them.  I am looking for more stories of kindness to inspire others.  Email me at .  

Blizzard in our neighborhood - 2010