Kindness can be radical.
Kindness can be powerful.
Kindnesses can change the world.
There was a movement several years ago called Random Acts of Kindness (RAK). People were talking about how to take action, how to go through the day looking to seize moments to be kind. Perhaps it was the movie/book Pay It Forward that kicked things off. I really don’t know.
One easy kindness many tried was to pay for the next person in line. On the morning commute when there was a toll booth, they paid for themselves and the car behind them. At a drive-through window, some Kindness perpetrators paid for the meal for the vehicle behind them.
The Christian radio station I listened to in Maryland encouraged listeners to engage the world this way and tell what happened. They also asked if someone benefited from an RAK to call in to testify about how that kindness effected them.There was the single mom barely scraping by who cried uncontrollably because the car in front of hers paid for her family’s meal.
There was a teenage girl dressed as a boy behind the iron curtain, a girl riding the rails in East Germany looking for her father, a girl with a friend bartering for food on the black-markets and earning pennies for a song or two at the station. Her name was Irene, and her memoirs are my A to Z Challenge Historical Treasure.
We learned that Russia was demanding restitution from Germany. The one who loses a war always must pay to the winners. However, Russia wanted more than what Germany had ever been worth. We saw railroad tracks removed by German POW’s to be shipped to Russia, along with just about everything else of value. From a clothing factory, every single sewing machine was sent to Russia. By losing so much railroad track, we now had such a crippled train system that it was no wonder people were so excited about the arrival of two trains at once.
….Even as we watched, we knew we would not be able to get on this train with our bags of food. It was just too crowded. We plunked down to rest and waited in front of two low basement windows.
“Look Krista, we can see down into the kitchen of the restaurant. I wonder for whom they are cooking?” Hungrily we sniffed the kitchen smells. The cook saw us and smiled. We waved back then and turned to watch for the next train.
A tap on the window caused us to turn back around and see the cook gesturing for us to come in. “You kids our there. Come into the kitchen and I’ll give you a bowl of soup.”
He didn’t have to repeat this offer. We quickly gathered up our bags and found the stairway down to the kitchen.
The aroma of food brought tears to my eyes. I’ll never forget how good that warm soup felt in my stomach.
“You kids look kind of undernourished. Here, have a piece of bread.”
Grateful for his kindness, we devoured the soup and bread. That meal was one of the best I had ever eaten. The cooks asked us where we came from and told me to take my hat off. when I didn’t, he took it off for me. His eyes opened wide.
“What kind of a boy are you?” For an instant he was not sure if I was a boy or a girl.
Slapping me on the back he said, “Break your neck and a leg,” which is an old German saying for wishing someone luck….A sudden commotion outside caught our attention.
….To our surprise we saw two nuns in the their black robes screaming
and running away from the train….Russian soldiers were in full pursuit and…intoxicated….People were forced to watch as they knocked the nuns to the ground…
….We finished our meal and thanked the cook. “You kids be careful getting that food home to your folks,” he warned.
Touching my shoulder, the cook whispered, “Survive little buddy. It’s better for now to be a boy.” [Excerpted from Book 2, My Years Hidden As a Boy, of the Iron Curtain Memoirs Series by Irene Kucholick]
When it came time to give her manuscript a name, Irene called it “Survive Little Buddy.” I changed it in the first edition because we put the memoir out in thirds. Before the Iron Curtain: My Wold War 2 Childhood, Behind the Iron Curtain: My Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape the Iron Curtain: My Journey to Freedom. In the second edition, though, we are taking the book back to her original title.
Inspired by an act of kindness.
Kindnesses can save lives.
Kristin King is an author, publisher who aspires to more random acts of kindness.