40: No Random Act

40: No Random Act

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Christmas Miracles

No Random Act

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

~Scott Adams

I peeked out from under the covers to check the time. The clock read 4:00. I rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling. It was 4 p.m., not 4 a.m., and I had managed to waste away another entire day in bed.

It was a week and a half before Christmas and despite all the pep talks I had given myself I was having a really hard time staying positive. In a few days I would be facing the anniversary of my daughter Kyley’s death, followed by her birthday on December 23rd. I had always looked forward to this time of year and now I just prayed for it to hurry up and be over.

I sat up and let my feet dangle over the edge of the bed. I had put off my Christmas shopping long enough. I decided to head to a neighboring town to find the perfect gift for my husband Joey. I wrapped my long hair up in a messy bun, skipped the make-up, and did nothing about the ratty old sweats I was wearing.

I made it into town and stopped by a few local boutiques, festive with holiday music and bright Christmas décor. Shoppers hurried from display to display, eagerly picking out the perfect gift for their loved ones. I left empty-handed but not completely discouraged. I still had two more stops and I was determined to find something, anything, before I headed home.

I suspected the local trading post would have a few good “guy gifts.” I headed that way and arrived at 6:04 p.m. The sign on the locked gate showed I had missed them by four minutes! I took a deep breath. The thought of having to go out another day and do this all over again was overwhelming. I shook my head. It wouldn’t come to that because my next stop was a huge, multi-level specialty store where I knew I would find the perfect gift for my husband.

I arrived and was pleasantly surprised that the parking lot wasn’t all that crowded. Great! I started walking toward the front door when I noticed a lady who had come out of the building. She was looking at me with that “look.” You know the one, the “I know something you don’t know look.” I recognized it and stopped. “Are they closed?” I asked her.

“Yes ma’am. We close at 6:00,” she pleasantly replied.

My shoulders slumped as my head fell forward. I felt defeated. This was a huge store. It was the holidays. How could they be closed? I could sense that she was walking toward me. She stopped in front of me and asked that fateful question: “Are you okay?” Now, if you are a woman and you’ve ever had a really bad day, you know what happens when someone asks if you are okay. Yep, you cry… a lot, and you spill the beans about whatever it is that has got you down. And that’s exactly what I did. I told her about Kyley, about the anniversary date, about her upcoming birthday, and how I just wanted to buy a present for my husband. I was pitiful.

The lady told me to wait there. I watched as she rushed back toward the building, knocked on the locked door, and disappeared inside. She reappeared a minute later and motioned for me to come to her. She was excited as she told me that the manager had agreed to open the store for me. I protested, now feeling rather embarrassed, but she set her purse and car keys on a nearby counter and asked what I was looking for. She led me to the back of the store and showed me where I could find the perfect gift for Joey.

“I don’t want you to feel like I’m hovering over you, rushing you, so I’m going to go stand right over there.” She pointed to a nearby display a couple of aisles over. “You take your time and if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.” She smiled sweetly before walking away.

I stood there looking at the huge empty space that was normally filled with hundreds of people and I knew this woman had already helped me.

That night I had needed to be heard. I needed someone to know I was hurting and to acknowledge that pain, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I needed someone to unlock the doors of a major department store after hours and let me in. I walked to where she was standing and asked her what time the store opened the next morning. I thanked her and told her I would never dream of keeping her and the others who had volunteered to stay behind for me from their families. I would return the next day during their regular business hours. I hugged her goodbye and told her I would see her the next morning.

The following morning I woke up, got dressed, and made the drive back to the store. I walked down the main aisle and immediately recognized the woman coming toward me. I asked her name and told her I wanted to thank her again for what she had done for me the night before. She looked puzzled. I smiled and told her I was the crying lady in the parking lot.

“Oh, my! You look so different! I didn’t even recognize you!” she said.

It is pretty amazing what sleep, a new day, hair and make-up, and just a little bit of kindness from a stranger will do for a girl.

I shared with her how much her act of kindness truly meant to me. I found my husband the perfect gift and I was on my way.

You hear lots about “random acts of kindness” but I got the distinct impression that this was no random act on this lady’s part. I do believe that I captured a glimpse of how this woman, Carol Roberson, lives her life every single day. Wow, what a wonderful world it would be if it were filled with people like Carol.

~Melissa Wootan

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness

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