From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

An Act of Kindness

Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.

Dr. Karl Menninger

I was being interviewed by a senior manager for a major insurance company. I told him honestly that the principal reason that I was interviewing with them was my need to keep my family in Boston. My wife of 26 years had recently died of a heart attack. A job in Boston would help me reduce some of the extreme trauma and pain of the loss for my 16-year-old daughter. It was important to me to keep her in her present high school.

I could still barely talk about the loss of my wife. Bruce, the interviewer, was politely empathetic, but he didn’t probe any further. He acknowledged my loss and, with great respect, moved on to another subject.

After the next round of interviews, Bruce took me to lunch with another manager. Then he asked me to take a walk with him. He told me that he, too, had lost his wife. And, like me, he had also been married 20 years and had three children. In his sharing, I realized that he had experienced the same pain as I had—a pain that was almost impossible to explain to someone who had not lost a loved one. He offered his business card and home phone number and suggested that, should I need help or just want someone to talk to, I should feel free to give him a call. Whether I got the job or not, he wanted me to know that he was there if I ever needed help.

From that one act of kindness, when he had no idea if we would ever see each other again, he helped our family deal with one of life’s greatest losses. He turned the normally cold business interview process into an act of caring and support for another person in a time of extreme need.

Mike Teeley

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