A dose of Iowa Nice


So there I was on way to church on Christmas Eve. I left a little early to have time to put air in the tires on my little red car because I had just received a diagnostic report on email telling me that all four of them were five pounds low. And since I was heading out on a three-hour drive first thing Christmas morning, I needed to do something about that.

By then It was dark and cold. Of course I didn’t check for the report when it was daylight. So there I was fumbling with the tire gauge and the air hose, kneeling by the tire. I could almost see what I was doing. I soldiered on.

“Need some help?” I soon heard a friendly voice beside me. “I have a flashlight.”

The smiling face belonged to a friend, but I told her I couldn’t bother her on Christmas Eve when we were both on our way to church. “Oh, but I’m almost a professional,” she insisted, aiming the flashlight beam on the tire gauge as I fumbled with the cap on another tire.

When we moved to the other side of the car, Liz expertly took the hose, checked the pressure on those tires, and added air. I didn’t protest; and besides, she was better at doing this than I am. Plus she’s young, a little older than my daughter.

“See you soon!” she said as she got into her car. I thanked her. And my helper was gone in the night as easily as she’d come to save me.

And that was my most recent brush with a random act of kindness, performed at just the right time with little fanfare. I appreciated the assistance–and the company–on that cold, dark evening very much.

The term “random acts of kindness” was all the buzz a few years back, when we were encouraged to practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty. It was the start of this kindness movement that’s still around in this 21st century.

It could well be that a kindness movement is something we need now more than ever. After all, it certainly seems that there is more than enough random violence in our society now, acts that leave us bewildered, sad, and anxious about the direction of our country.

Bullying is all too common in many schools. If only those youngsters understood how easy it is to be nice instead of mean. As my mom used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Maybe other places just need a good dose of Iowa Nice.