Shout Out for Big Act of Kindness

Today Sena and I want to make a shout out for a big act of kindness. Back in August, the derecho blew down a maple tree in our front yard, which also led to a concern about the tree right next to our house, which was a lilac.

We cut both down to stumps with a handsaw, a long handle tree trimmer, and a bow saw. We don’t have a chain saw. We planned to hire a handyman who does own a chainsaw to cut down the stumps.

We were outside, laboring over the lilac with the bow saw. We shared the bow saw. Come to think of it, I’m pretty good about sharing a bow saw, especially when I’ve been using it enough to notice muscle pain in several places I didn’t know I had.

We got the stump down to about 2 feet and were cutting off pathetic little chunks not much bigger than golf balls.

And then I guess a couple of guys on the construction crew working nearby took pity on us because suddenly, they walked over, shouting “Let us help you!” and carrying the biggest concrete saw I’ve ever seen, along with a respectable sledge hammer. The guy operating the concrete saw was the size of a sumo wrestler. His partner was no slouch.

No kidding, “Let us help you!” How could we refuse? What made them do that? Was it the white hair? Was it because they might have seen me yesterday get dirty as a pig cutting tiny pieces off the front yard maple stump? The only way to trim a stump once it gets to a certain height is to roll all over the ground. I have not been that dirty since I was 8 years old after playing king of the hill on a very tall dirt pile.

When I think about the use of a concrete saw almost as tall as I am to cut down a lilac stump, I’m astonished. They brought the tools they had to help us. I’ll never forget that big, friendly “Let us help you!” I’ll never forget their smiling faces.

That lilac stump lasted long a little longer than you’d think, and it was very heavy work. The saw screamed and smoked like it was on fire. It was heavy, but he was heavier and strove to slice the stump as close to the ground as possible. They both took turns swinging the sledge hammer at it—which made me instinctively want to duck. The stump finally let loose.

Immediately, the workers hurried away as we shouted thanks, almost as if they were worried that we might want to pay them—which I certainly considered. They smiled broadly, waving their huge hands.

We are still overwhelmed with gratitude for their kindness. These days, kindness is hard to come by. You look at the news (bad idea), and all you read is somebody is slamming or killing somebody else. I’m not saying you never see or hear about little or big acts of kindness—just that the bad news tends to overshadow the good.

You have to look very hard for an act of kindness. It’s harder to see how we can pay it forward. It doesn’t have to be a big act of kindness. It can be little, like saying “Good morning, how are you?” Even saying “thank you” is an act of kindness. And it’s OK to give a big shout out for any kindness you see—just to let people know it’s still out there.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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