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A Spontaneous Gesture

By on May 1, 2017


As if all the craziness going on in the world these days wasn’t enough to deal with, you’re also facing the mounting pressures and stresses of trucking, the growth of distracted driving, and everyone being in a big hurry. As a consequence, friendliness, common courtesy, compassion and kindness have all but gone away, taking a back seat to aggressiveness, a general attitude of not caring, crabbiness, aggravation and frustration.

A while back, I was issued an overweight ticket at a scale house. I was instructed—in no uncertain terms by law enforcement—to slide my trailer tandems “to make it legal.” Returning to my truck, I fought with the slider suspension, going back and forth from the pin-puller to the cab, trying to disengage the pin to retract. Much to my shock, two other company rigs rode right by me without even as much as a wave, never mind stopping to assist. By now, my attitude had considerably worsened.

With one last mighty effort, and much cursing, I managed to get the pin unstuck, slid the tandems to make the rig legal and went on my way, a very bitter man. During the rest of that trip, I was trying to comprehend why no trucker stopped to lend a hand.

No Money

Several days later, I received a call from dispatch asking if I could come in as soon as possible to cover a load for a driver who had a family emergency. I said, “I’d be happy to,” grabbed my gear, and off I went to the terminal. Several hours into the trip, I pulled into a truckstop to grab a cup of coffee, a sandwich and a snack to go.

The cashier rang up my bill and said: “That’ll be $9.24.” I reached into my wallet to grab a $10 bill. To my astonishment, I only had two dollars and no credit card. It was then that I realized I had loaned some cash to my wife, plus gave her the credit card to purchase a new microwave for the house.

Embarrassed, I told the cashier, sheepishly, that I’d have to put the items back because I didn’t have enough money. Apparently, the trucker behind me heard my dilemma. “I’ll pay for him,” he said.

“I truly appreciate that, but I can’t accept your kindness,” I told him. “Nonsense,” was his reply. “Stuff happens. Besides,” he chuckled, “truckers need their nourishment. You can repay me the next time we run into one another.” He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

As we walked outside, I thanked him profusely and asked him for his name and mailing address, so I could send him a check as repayment. He refused, despite my repeated attempts. “I’m happy to help,” he said with a wide grin. “I never get tired of doing things for others,” turned, and off he went.

The Power of Nice

That trucker’s simple act of kindness had a great impact on me. I got back on the road feeling really good. That stranger made me realize the power of nice—something that is in very short supply in today’s turbulent world, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask yourself, “When was the last time you tried a little kindness?”

If you’d like a bit of inspiration, here’s a good way to start. Just Google the 1969 Glen Campbell hit song, ‘Try a Little Kindness.’ Accompanied by the masterful music of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, listen to Campbell’s lyrics and watch the slideshow. You’ll find them uplifting.

Because I believe behavior is contagious, I resolved that I would make a concerted effort to be kinder and nicer to others. I figured that if I’m kinder to someone, they will be kinder to someone else, and this will spread from person to person, to person, creating a domino effect.

Think back to the last time you were kind to someone. Along with making that person feel good, it made you feel good, too, didn’t it?

Several scientific studies have demonstrated the positive effects of kindness on health—both psychological and physiological. The research finds that with an act of kindness comes a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm. Often referred to as a “helper’s high,” the giver and the receiver feel physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers: the endorphins. Who couldn’t use more endorphins these days?

This initial euphoric rush is succeeded by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional wellbeing. What’s more, following an act of kindness, there is an increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness and optimism—all good things.

Being kind can be as simple as a smile, holding a door for someone or saying thank you. Or, it can be getting “involved” by noticing a need and then offering to help.

Imagine the impact and effect of a random act of kindness. Consider this: An act of kindness is like a pebble dropped into water. The ripples created by that pebble spread out far beyond where it entered the water.

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