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Random Acts of Kindness - those tiny, insignificant surprises, usually
given by a stranger. About the only thing as good as being the
recipient of a random act of kindness is sharing that gift with others.

I thought this would be a good topic for this board since all of us are treated to these little gifts now and then. I have a lot of such stories but I'll start with a tiny one that left a big impact on my heart, a memory from a road trip with the dogs that happened right after the September 11th attacks. R and I had taken a leisurely vacation to the mountains, meandering back through north Alabama.

We'd been driving through all the back roads on our way home. Vacations generally took us to other states so we never really managed to see what was in our own beautiful Alabama. All the little towns like pieces from a history book, places that looked as though they hadn't changed in decades.

It was lunchtime. We found a little drive-in housed in a mobil home with a ramshackle wooden porch surrounding it. Tempted by the hand-lettered sign that promised "The World's Best Burgers!" and reaffirmed by the handful of locals awaiting their lunches on the porch, we pulled in, got out of the van and walked to the window, ordering two deluxe bacon cheeseburgers. Then we sat down on a picnic table along with a couple of friendly-looking guys in coveralls and we were immediately greeted warmly and engaged in conversation.

The guys could see the dogs in the van with their paws on the windowsills looking out with perpetual excitement. "Git them dawgs out and let'm lay in the shade", Randy said, and we did. Chatting about our vacation, they seemed interested and full of local information. They cheerfully gave us directions to a lovely lake with picnic tables about a mile away where we could picnic and let the dogs run.

As we continued to talk, I shaded my eyes from the bright sun and
mentioned I had left my cap back in a motel in North Carolina. Hearing
that, Joe jumped up and went to his truck and returned with a blue cap,
softly bleached by the sun and smelling sweetly of hay and new-mown
grass, and emblazoned with "Bailey & Son Feed & Supply". He gave it to
me and said "Cain't go hikin' without no cap". I agreed and gratefully
accepted it.

Before long our lunch was ready and passed to us through the trailer
window in a white bag. Joe and Randy shook our hands, made sure we
understood their directions to the lake and wished us a safe trip home.

Twenty minutes later we were seated on a wooden picnic table where someone had recently carved a heart with the words "I love America!". What had happened to America so recently brought tears to my eyes as I looked around this beautiful spot. All around us were huge oaks with the sun dappling through their leaves and the lake was clear and still beside us. It was a tiny piece of heaven.

We opened the bag and took out the most delicious-smelling hamburgers, a
huge sack of fries, and a smaller white bag with these words written on
the outside in a magic marker: "For the dogs". Inside were two
perfectly-charcoaled hamburger patties.

The beauty of that peaceful place and the kindness of those strangers
washed over me like sweet molasses and I vowed to keep that moment alive
in my memory. So often we receive kindness and accept it, appreciate
it, and then forget it. And what a loss that is. How much better to
keep those tiny snapshots of happiness near.

Sometimes when some irritable sales clerk acts like she hates her job
and you too, or some hothead cuts you off in traffic, or you hear story
after story on the news of man's inhumanity to man you begin to believe
that everyone is like that. But then your path brings you right to some
folks like those strangers in north Alabama and you thank God that for the most part that simply isn't true...that good people are everywhere and it's important to recognize and remember those blessings when they touch us.

I'd love to hear y'all's stories of simple kindnesses that stay with you.

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