In an increasingly difficult world, we need more random acts of kindness

In an increasingly difficult world, we need more random acts of kindness

Living in Chicago has become more and more difficult.  The cost of doing– well everything– has skyrocketed and will continue to go up.  Even doing free things like taking a walk on the lakefront could cost more if you have to take a bus to get to there.  It seems like if I go to sleep with 95 cents of spare change in my jeans, when I wake up there is only 53 cents left.  Our guys Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn key into my home in the dead of the night to take their share.  It’s like being behind to a couple of bookies.

It is difficult to watch the news.  Chicago had 506 homicides last year– 506!!!  And people continue to die on Chicago streets night after night.  Gun violence plagues our country from coast to coast.  Our elected representatives pick and choose what interests they defend in Washington D.C. or Springfield– usually based upon the size of a donor’s pocketbook.  Illinois’ financial health continues to go down the tubes and very few of our elected representatives want to do anything about it.

So it made my morning when I got up and read about a small act of kindness done by a Red Robin fast food restaurant. Apparently, a family of three and a half went to eat at Red Robin in Apex, North Carolina.  The manager joked to the very pregnant mother that it would likely be her last meal before giving birth.  So, as a random act of kindness, the manager of the restaurant comped her bill– $11.50– and wrote a little note on the receipt wishing the soon to be mother of two good luck.

“The manager said nothing to us about it,” Jason Sivon told “We were already happy with the service so that action really blew us away. I looked at my wife and told her that I guessed we would be coming here more often.”

And now the story has gone viral.  Likely because we hunger for stories of kindness in a world where kindness has disappeared.  All for $11.50.

It reminded me of a story about a grandmother on a plane landing late at night at O’Hare Airport  a couple winters ago.  The plane landed late and the grandmother missed her connecting flight to her destination.  Somehow she started talking to a Chicago man a couple rows ahead of her and he and his wife collected the grandmother’s luggage and they shared a ride to a downtown hotel near the couple’s home.  The man paid for her room and made certain she made her rescheduled flight the next day.  He didn’t need to do that, but he said that he hoped that someone would do the same thing for his grandmother if she were in the same predicament.

I had the opportunity to do something nice a couple weeks ago and completely blew it.  An elderly woman was paying for her $15.00 of groceries at Jewel with a gift card.  The thought crossed my mind to tell the woman to take her groceries and I’ll take care of it.  The thought more than crossed my mind– it sat there and lingered.  But I blew it– and didn’t open my (usually big) mouth when the random opportunity to do something nice for someone arose.  It would have cost me $15.00– which is likely the amount I paid in taxes on my groceries.

Hopefully, I’ll take the next opportunity to do something kind.  And although it sounds hokey, maybe if we all start doing little random acts– and if we all start living by the Golden Rule– maybe our world can get just a little better.

So maybe as I ride the “el” downtown to go to City Hall looking for the 42 cents Rahm took from me last night, I’ll get up and give my seat to someone who needs it.  Or when I call my state senator and demand that she take action on public pensions, my tirade will end with the word “please.”

Or maybe the next time I see someone in need– or better yet, even if the person is not in need– I’ll just give.  Not because I have to or even because I should.  But because I can.


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  • Surely you'll get another opportunity to carry out an act of kindness there are far too many on the streets of Chicago pleading for financial kindness.

    "True-dat" is the slang often used when a nerve is touched. We are all in need of a moment of space in which to breath from the ever increasing weight of the prices for our mere existing.

    You identify the right people and as we all need to recognize, our system is built on the backs of the poor, we exist in an economic system that keeps us there--how else would they keep us happy for the crums we are left?

  • I was at Target a few weekends ago and a lady with a huge 3-ring binder full of coupons watched me choose a couple packages of razors and asked me if I had coupons for them. I told her no...and then she said she did, and she wasn't going to use them, and asked if I would like them! That lady gave me $3 worth of coupons, and I had nothing to give her in return but a very sincere thank you.

    It's been a very bad 3-4 months in my life. That little gesture of kindness made my day. It still does.

  • In reply to cinco:

    Cinco: I really like that story. We certainly need more of that. I'm sorry about the last three or four months-- best to you for the next four. Thanks for reading and caring enough to comment.

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