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COLUMN: Random acts of generosity truly make a difference

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By Jennifer Corbett

What I’ve come to learn is that random acts of generosity really go a long way.

Whether it’s holding the door for someone, or simply helping someone carry a heavy couch inside a house, small gestures go a long way in someone’s eyes.

A few weeks ago, I was having a stressful day, not to mention it was pouring down rain outside.

I had to attend a meeting for an assignment, and when I got there, I realized I forgot an umbrella.

Initially, I didn’t think much of it. If I just wrapped my computer tightly in my bag and ran as fast as I could, nothing bad would happen.

As I got out of my car, I noticed a man walk over to me with an umbrella in his hand. He saw that I didn’t have an umbrella and wanted to make sure I stayed dry.

That man’s generosity took me by surprise.

In all honesty, I expected him to just stay dry inside the building, where I saw him standing when I initially parked my car. 

When he walked out to my car, I didn’t know what to say besides “thank you.”

But what I wanted to tell him was that his small act of kindness essentially turned my day around. I sat down for the meeting with a smile on my face — something I didn’t have beforehand.

That’s why I try to be nice to people wherever I may be. I don’t know what they’re going through at home or what kind of day they’re having.

If I’m rude to them, it could be the cherry on top of their worst day ever.

The person who’s my cashier at a store could be a single mother trying to make ends meet, or a teenager making some extra money to pay for college tuition.

I’ve been in their shoes before, so I know what it’s like.

In college, I worked in a deli and coffee shop before or after class and dealt with people who would complain about the smallest of details.

“Ma’am, could you please stack the ham more neatly?”

“Ma’am, my iced caramel latte isn’t dark enough.”  

True to the customer service mentality, I would bite my lip and give service with a smile.

Then again, I would get a customer with a small act of generosity that would make my day.

A few years ago, I was working Thanksgiving at the deli. I was about to close up when a woman came running to me frantically. Her family was over for Thanksgiving and she had nothing to serve them. The deli, for the most part, was closed, so my first thought was to tell her no. But I knew I would make this woman’s day, so I cut up the ham she needed and scooped her a pound of potato salad into a container.

The extra 10 minutes I had to spend cleaning up was worth it, because that woman couldn’t thank me enough for what I did for her.

So in the end, I’ve learned it’s the random acts of generosity that truly make a difference.

Jennifer Corbett is a reporter at The Kentucky Standard. She can be contacted at jcorbett@kystandard.com.