What would you do if you were walking down the street minding your own business when a little old man started to chase you down the sidewalk with a tomato in one hand and a wedge of cheese in the other shouting, “Tomat and chez! Tomat and chez!”
Okay…How about if you were walking back to your car after exiting the grocery store and a woman driving a mini-van full of stuffed animals began chasing you in an attempt to wave you over to her?
Well, in the first scenario with the old man, I was in Greece. Since I am American, I thought he was trying to sell me something. “No thank-you,” I said, and kept walking, as I’d do with annoying vendors in NYC or all those people trying to give you X-rated business cards in Las Vegas. The old man, however, persisted and began following me. I walked faster, trying to ignore him.
“No,” he stopped in front of me and held up his hands “tomat and chez.” Then he motioned with his hands that the “tomat and chez” were for me. He then gently placed the tomato in my left hand and the wedge of cheese in my right.
“Um, thanks!” Where did this come from? Now, now I kind of felt like a jerk.
In the second situation the woman followed behind me in her van as I walked from the grocery store to my car. Then she pulled the vehicle over, got out, and began to pursue me on foot as I walked to mine. I must note that in neither of these situations was I alone, but this time, the lady was a bit scary. She seemed annoyed or possibly angry with me as she stated, “I want to give you a gift!” Still skeptical, I glanced at my companion, then followed far behind the lady as she walked back towards the van. She slid open the side door, poked around, and then brought me a slightly dirty yellow teddy bear.
“Um…thank-you!” She looked at me oddly, trying to interpret my reaction. You can understand how I was a bit confused, taken off guard by this unexpected gesture.
Everyday we wander around in our own little worlds never expecting random acts of kindness. In fact, it is more likely we go about our day, doing business through the town or city, worrying more about random acts of violence. When I was approached by these lovely and obliging strangers, I was not prepared to be on the receiving end of a kind gesture. Truth is they surprised me as I walked around lost in my own little haze.
After they walked away and I was left holding my ‘tomat and chez’ and my teddy bear, I smiled. I smiled because there are so many really beautiful people out there; people that you would never expect were waiting to surprise you with kindness.