Stories of Kindness from Around the World

The Business of Respect and Kindness

--by Tom Stein, posted Oct 10, 2009

So I am on the way to an appointment, and while I am not late yet, I don't have much time to spare. I drive up Henley Road (always careful to observe the speed limit, of course), and I approach that nasty, blind S-curve just south of U.S. 40.

Ahead looms a garbage truck. Uh-oh. By their nature, garbage trucks progress slowly -- house by house by house. Passing a truck on that nasty, blind S-curve is foolish. I prepare for an impatient crawl through the curve and up to the stoplight.

I see a hand hanging out the side of the truck. The hand is motioning. The hand is waving. The hand is motioning and waving for me to keep moving and go around the truck. I have the reflexes of Uwe Blab, but I finally pull out and around, pass the truck, reach U.S. 40, make it to my appointment on time, and continue with a day filled with sunshine and success.

Well, maybe not the last part, but the rest is true. Here is what I think as I go around the garbage truck: he didn't have to do that. His job is to collect the garbage, not worry about me and my schedule. But he took a moment to look behind him and see a car, look ahead and see nothing, and motion me around his truck.

Fathers get paid to lecture, and I have recently been lecturing my children about respect and kindness. They are big subjects, and I can find a wealth of biblical material to fuel my mini-sermons. But that moment portrayed what I struggle to preach. Surely the garbage truck guy didn't think about all of this, but with that little act, he showed me respect and kindness.

Respect: I realize you are a human being too, so I will not treat you like a piece of dirt or even like an animal, but like a human being with problems, responsibilities and desires.

Kindness: because I am a human being too, and because I want to be treated with kindness, I will try to treat you the way I would like to be treated. Who wants to follow a garbage truck up Henley Road or any other road?

Examples abound. The way I correct you as my child. My willingness to let you change lanes in front of me. Getting off my backside and helping with a chore. Shutting my mouth and opening my ears. Overlooking your irritating habit.

We seem to like meanness these days. We seem to find it entertaining. We seem to think that somehow we are stronger or better, if we are tougher and harsher. It infests our politics, our sports, our traffic and our homes.

I don't know about you, but I have a long way to go in this business of respect and kindness. Yet I am reminded by a man in a truck on a busy morning. It stirs my heart. Will it change my life?
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Readers Comments

Tafadzwa Zhande wrote: I like this
susan bradley wrote: Well written! These kindnesses and respectful acts abound each day, and we overlook these simple acts in our hurry!

Thank you for sharing this wonderful bit and reminding me of all the simple acts of love respect and kindness shown to me each day.

Also, thank you, as a parent for remining about this simple behavior towards our children! There is a bigger lesson in our actions than often in our sermonizing to our kids for sure!

In love and gratitude!

Susan xx
Kiteflier wrote: Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!
Reneda wrote: It makes me sad that you imply that animals are less deserving of respect. Why should any soul be less deserving of respect simply because it is different than you. That's the problem w/the world today. We tend to believe that only ourselves and those like us are deserving of happiness, love and respect. I hope the next time you teach your children one of your "little lessons", you teach that all animals, all souls are deserving of love, care and respect. Perhaps have them donate food or time working in an animal shelter to see those who are so in need.
cabbage wrote: I am sure it will---it has changed mine today. Thank you for sharing this wonderful example and for reminding us how we can be kind and respectful in our homes and in the world every day. Hugs to you! :-)
lakshmi wrote: Even that thought can be the first small step towards change. We can, if we want to!
Hervy wrote: Hello torn,
Thanks for not letting this moment in time and lesson in life pass by without pointing out the small things that make a difference. Often we witness examples as you have highlighted and take them for granted. Being a trucker myself, there are many times that i also look out for my fellow motorist.

Just like you said, it is part the small things like this that makes a huge difference in all of our lives.

I tell other drivers entering the trucking field to always look out for our fellow motorist whether four wheeler or big truck when they can.

For instance when pulling up to a red light at an intersection, i tell them to make sure they don't block an entrance near the intersection so that people can get in and out. It really feels good to see people able to use that gap when it's done.

Anyway, just wanted to that you for posting, as a trucker, it's nice for you to notice that we do care.

I just also wanted to co sign on your bigger point of all of us need to become more like the driver who considered how he could be of service to another person when he checked the traffic and waved you on.

You are on point. This is where we all need to get to in the way that we think.

Thanks and have a great day,
Hervy - the crazy trucker
glorioski wrote: So well put.

We really need to be examples, above anything else. I really would have to say though, that the automatic acts of kindness and respect i give each day, are not ones i was lectured on. They are ones i observed. I hold the door for those behind me, because i observed my parents do it. I give blood when i can, because every 56 days i accompanied my dad when he donated. I don't think he ever told me to donate, but i do. And it feels good. Especially since my daughter had to be transfused recently.

And the kind acts we receive, prompt our own behaviors, when we are faced with the same opportunities to give in kind.

Cheers for a thought provoking post.

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