He writes in the font, she adds to the story in this font.
Random acts of kindness, that's what life is all about. The real social currency that people exchange day-to-day is compassion and unexpected displays of consideration. That's what I felt this morning anyway, as we explored Hawthorne Boulevard in East Portland. Random acts of kindness (RAK for you chivers) are subtle; things that people often overlook without notice. This can apply to the giver or recipient alike - true kindness is a natural deed of humanity after all. We do it instinctively.
Here is how we experienced the subtle kindness of strangers one recent sunny day in PDX.
Successfully getting an early start this past Saturday morning, Megan and I were up and active by seven o'clock. She finished a blog post as I went for a quick run along the waterfront. By half past eight, we had worked up an appetite and were ready to start some adventures. Luckily, we didn't have to engage in the perfunctory nuisance of choosing where to eat; Megan had already made that decision. "I want to take you to Bread and Ink," she said as we got into the car. Guy had mentioned vintage shopping the day before and immediately I thought of the Eastside. Nothing brings me back to freshmen year at PSU like Hawthorne Boulevard. It’s full of great and affordable vintage furniture, vintage apparel, and fantastic food!
This is where I had my first random act of kindness: Bread and Ink. As many of you know, I'm sure, it's difficult to find parking in the narrow-street neighborhoods surrounding Hawthorne Boulevard. It took ten minutes past eternity for us to find a spot that was not blocking someone's driveway. I think it took slightly less than eternity, but we were both incredibly hungry at this point, so it felt like forever. While Guy contemplated what nearby object he could eat, I actively practiced hunger ignorance. We followed a trail of mirages deep down a side street until we found a spot a couple of blocks from the beginning of our search. By the time we made it to a table inside, there was a palpable vibe of "hangry" emanating from us - or at least from me. "I'm just hungry, man," is how I responded to the server's cheerful salutation when he first came to greet us. At this point, it seems that “hangry” is a pretty typical slang, but for those who do not keep up with Urban Dictionary, it’s the combination of hungry and angry. The anger is typically caused by the hunger.
He brought me a cinnamon roll. It made a world of difference. Pause here and look below. It was delicious and nostalgic, Megan and I said at the same time that it tasted like the ones our mothers made at home. This cinnamon roll practically melted in my mouth. This may sound stupid or trivial, but that subtle display of consideration meant something to me. I felt that he recognized the situation and went out of his way to make it better; pure kindness. After waiting for us to finish the cinnamon roll and mollify the hanger, he came back and talked to us about the restaurant and how they make their delectable food. It’s incredible how much of a difference genuinely good customer service skills can make. Coincidentally, I recently taught a short class on customer service to some of my clients at work and we discussed how the first person you interact with can often set the tone for a customer's experience with a business. (For those who may not know, I manage a child abuse prevention program and have the opportunity to work with adults to work towards stability and self-sufficiency).
Fun fact #1: Bread and Ink has been serving Portland for thirty-four years and makes all of their food from scratch.
Kindness is contagious. It spreads like the scent of spring flowers. We left breakfast in a cheerful mood and were ready to do a little vintage shopping. I think happiness and excitement were emanating from us as we strolled down the street snapping pictures and being way too affectionate. This sounds like a recurring problem. Now it was time for a little vintage shopping!
Fun Fact #2: The vintage shops on Hawthorne don't open until eleven(ish).
Walking around and killing time, we stumbled into 3 Dots & A Dash. Here is the next act of kindness. While admiring all of the beautiful furniture and accessories, Megan started talking to Cheryl, the store owner. Coincidentally, we had both bought Moo cards recently and this sparked a conversation about quality business cards and our blog. She asked all about our story, blog, and lives in general. Her kindness was in listening and giving encouragement. Cheryl was so supportive about our plans and even invited us to her craft nights. Immediately upon hearing the words "craft night," I'm pretty certain my eyes darted at Guy with the non-verbal cue equivalent to saying,"We are going." In turn, she let us learn all about her business and interests. I love meeting talented people that are willing to share like that.
Fun fact #3: Anyone interested in refurbished, one-of-a-kind furniture NEEDS to check out 3 Dots and A Dash.
These acts of kindness from perfect strangers may not seem like much, but they meant something to us. People being nice to other people; it's a simple thought that does not always happen. Sometimes it does not happen at all. Whether Cheryl or our server at Bread and Ink even remember it, I will never forget their kindness. More importantly, I will pass it onward. We will pass it onward.