January 26, 2009

Christa Avampato: Random Acts of Kindness

A few weeks ago I was taking the bus cross town, or at least attempting to, in the pouring rain. I was dashing down the flooded streets, chasing after the bus I needed to catch. Thankfully another person was in the same boat, or so I thought. He banged on the door of the bus to stop it. For me. And he continued on his way under a half sagging umbrella. I breathlessly thanked him. "No problem." he said.

In the late summer, I was walking a few blocks to meet my friends at the Boat Basin. A "Not in Service" bus stopped and asked me how far I had to go. He offered to take me over there. "But you're out of service," I said. "Don't worry about it," he replied, "I don't mind." He dropped me off as close to the Boat Basin as possible and didn't even ask me to swipe my Metrocard.

Today I walked outside, very early in the morning and more than a little grumpy. An older woman was struggling to scrape off the thick ice that coated her car. A stranger pulled up to the curb and offered to scrape the car for her. The woman was overwhelmed with the offer of help. I smiled and felt a little more hopeful about the world.

I was saying good-bye and happy holidays to some of my co-workers just before Christmas. I was quite speechless to have one of them say to me, "You, Christa, were the bright spot of 2008 for me. In a year that is so challenging on every front, I am so thankful for you." I didn't even know how to respond. I never would have expected to have made any kind of impact close to that.

Yesterday, I returned home from the airport at 1am after being awake since 4am the morning before, dealing with quite possibly one of the worst days of my life in-between. I arrived at my apartment door frustrated, deeply saddened, and full of disappointment. I looked back at the cab that had dropped me at the curb outside and he waited for me to make sure that I got into my front door okay. Can you believe that? A New York cabbie concerned that some no-name lady got into her apartment building without trouble. His small act erased my sadness.

It's these small acts of kindness and concern that make all the difference in our existence in our experience of life. While grand gestures are certainly well-received, I always find that it's the small and heartfelt moments that I retain and cherish most. My new year's resolution is very simple - it is to celebrate and savor these small gifts, understand how little effort it really takes to make someone else's day, and to recognize that I can create those moments for others on a continuous basis. In short, I'd like to feel more hopeful and generate more hope for others.

This post was written by Christa Avampato, a product developer in the financial services industry. In the future, she would like to parlay her product and service development experience into the world of social entrepreneurship. She is a volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project and publishes her own blog on creativity at http://www.christainnewyork.blogspot.com. Please leave your comments or email christa.avampato[@]gmail.com with your questions.


Grampa Ken said...

Nice thoughts on kindness Christa. Kindness to others is usually so rewarding, both to the recipient and the giver. Stated quite nicely by these guys:

"When you are good to others, you are best to yourself." - Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

"If you lend money, it is uncertain whether you shall be repaid; but if you bestow alms, although they may be small, your return will be a hundred fold." - Saskya Pandita (1182-1251)

Christa said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks so much for your comment. It takes so little to improve someone else's life in enormous ways. I'm working this year to remind myself of that daily.

All my best,

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