It started Friday when I was grocery shopping and a gentleman approached me.
“Can I pay you a compliment without offending you?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” I replied, intrigued by the idea of compliment capable of offending me.
“If you have an old man who doesn’t tell you every single day how fine you look, get yourself a new old man.”
OK, so it wasn’t one of those acts of kindness like carrying my groceries to the car or helping a kid cross the street, but it still made my day.
From there, I dashed off to pick up a new pair of prescription sunglasses. The very next day, I dropped them facedown in the gravel. I almost cried when I saw the scratches on the lenses, and I drove back to Binyon Optical with a heavy heart.
“Is there anything I can buy to fill in the scratches so I don’t spend the whole summer thinking my glasses are covered with bugs?”
The customer service rep took a look at them and shrugged. “We’ll go ahead and make you new lenses, no charge.”
“Sure. You’re a loyal customer, and you just bought them yesterday.”
A cynical friend suggested my recent lack of a wedding ring – coupled with the fact that both kind deed doers were male – was to blame for both acts of kindness. Call me naïve, but I don’t think that’s it.
I was at the dog park yesterday when I spotted a sign on the bulletin board. A dog owner had typed up a statement about her canine’s bad behavior, offering an apology to a couple whose dogs her pet had apparently harassed and noting that she’s working with a professional trainer to correct the behavior.
The other dog owners must have seen it, because scrawled at the bottom was an acceptance of the apology and a note wishing them good luck with the training.
None of them had to leave those notes. They could have just gone their separate ways grumbled privately about the humping or lack of humping or whatever the canine crime was committed.
But the fact that both parties went out of their way to make things right with the other warmed my heart and reminded me that deep down, people are generally pretty kind.
I think that’s why I get annoyed when I read books with one-dimensional villains who are evil without a trace of attempted decency. Unless you live in a cartoon, bad guys aren’t generally jerks just for the sport of it. Even misguided sadists tend to believe deep down that they’re doing something good for someone.
It’s something I’m keeping in mind as I work through edits in my third contracted book. I can’t tell you much without giving away some surprise story elements, but suffice it to say, it's critical to make sure all people doing bad things have enough kindness in their characters to allow readers to relate to them.
Even if they do deserve to be punched in the nose.
What’s the last random act of kindness you performed or had performed for you? Do you share my frustration with one-dimensional bad guys? Please share.
And while we’re at it, please join me in pledging to commit at least one random act of kindness this week. Go ahead and hit on someone in the grocery store. Tell them I put you up to it.