I remember being told to “be nice” when I was younger. I can’t recall the situations where I was told to “be nice”; probably when I was dogging on a friend of mine who had gotten on my nerves by showing off a new Swatch watch or Forenza sweater. “Nice” grates on me now. It seems so saccharine-like and bland. Maybe it is simply because I heard it so often in my childhood, and as a grown-up, even, on the playgrounds and in the schools.
I drove over to Kroger’s this afternoon after Maria’s soccer game to get all the fixings for loaded baked potatoes for our evening dinner. I had to park at the very end of the lot because all the non-procrastinators were there to stock up on Super Bowl items. I hurriedly pushed my cart around the aisles grabbing all the necessities in order to get out of there under 20 minutes and back home to bake the potatoes. For once, I even got in the correct lane – the one that moved the fastest – based on my intuition that the line with the thin lady dressed in crisp trousers and sporting a perfectly coiffed bob would never get checked out before the older gentleman purchasing four 12-packs of Diet Coke (she also brought her own bags, which is great for the environment but is an automatic sign that she will want everything placed in the bags in a certain manner (she was still there directing the bagboy when I left)0.
I scurried out the doors and hoofed up to my car at the end of the parking spaces. As I placed my last couple of bags in the trunk, a man got out of his car in the spot beside me. He began walking towards my cart and stopped.
“Do you want me to take your cart back for you?”
I paused for a minute to fully appreciate the gesture. I said sure and thanked him. He swung the cart around the other direction and headed down the lot towards the front doors. I opened my car door and plopped in my seat. I smiled. I was so taken aback by his gesture. Granted, he was heading that direction anyway but he could have just slipped by me and went on his merry way. I am sure I have done that on many occasions – busy in my own head with what I needed to get, rushed to get home. Also, even though the cart lot was only four cars away, it always seems like such a burden to return the cart to its lot. It’s like that added 30 feet is a mile.
I called my mom to tell her the story.
“Wasn’t that so nice of him” I asked her.
“Yes”, she said but then continued to tell me how my Uncle Terrance would say that it was a “kind gesture.” She told me that when he experienced a gesture like I did, he would always respond by thanking the person for their kindness. I loved that story, and love the word “kind.” Kind is more genuine, more lasting. I feel like being told you are “kind” would resonate on a much deeper level than being told you were “nice.”
I made some amaze-balls twice baked potatoes for the family. We sat down at the dining room table and ate together – the first time we have done that in a while. I told the kids and Jon my story about the man taking the cart. I told them about using the word “kind” to describe his gesture rather than “nice.” They nodded their heads and smiled at me not quite knowing what to say.
I thought of my Uncle Terrance and gave him a nod, continued to dig into my potato.