Parson to Person:  “A Few Random Acts of Kindness” Feb. 5, 2021

I don’t drive very often to Illinois (especially since COVID hit), but if I’m going through the toll booths on I-94, I usually give the toll-booth operator two tolls–one for me and one for the next car. I came upon this idea some time ago, and I’ve always enjoyed the somewhat surprised look in the toll-booth operator’s face when I give them $3.00 instead of $1.50. (I assume the driver of the next car is surprised too, but I don’t usually see their face.)  I’ve been doing this for years, and I always hoped it might happen to me. (Not because I wanted to get paid back, but just because it would be nice to know that the idea has caught on.)

Well, it did happen once! On my way back to Wisconsin one day I was about to give the toll person my $3.00 when she said, “The car ahead of you already paid your toll.”  We both smiled that time.  I don’t know whether the driver who paid my way was someone I had paid for earlier–or just someone out of the blue. But it doesn’t matter. The good deed had gone full circle, so to speak.

Here are a few other “random acts of kindness” I sometimes engage in. When I’m in a park, I sometimes leave a few coins in the sand near the swings and other children’s equipment, so kids will find it later. I also feed other people’s parking meters if they are close to expiring (the meters, not the people). Occasionally, when I have eaten out at a restaurant, I’ve left a note with my tip, telling the wait staff how much I appreciated their service. Or when I visited a nursing home, I sometimes stopped to talk to another resident, even though I didn’t know them. If I see shopping carts in the parking lot, I return them to the corrals so that people won’t run into them while trying to park. If someone behind me in line at the grocery store doesn’t have much in their cart, I often tell them to go ahead. If someone lets me go ahead in line, I thank them profusely (and sometimes jokingly tell them they will get time off of purgatory for their good deed).

If you do these or other random acts of kindness, please let me know (my phone number is 262-632-9886, and my email is revtonylarsen@gmail.com), so I can include them in a future Parson to Person column.  I happen to think that the world we are living in right now could use some extra acts of goodwill. And, as I heard on TV the other day: “Even if you can’t have a civil discussion with certain people on religion or politics right now, you can show them a little kindness. Who knows–maybe that kindness will make it possible to have a civil discussion some day in the future.”

peace and unrest,

tony