You offered me much more than your umbrella.

Flower

Several months ago I had an incident at Target where a woman was openly hostile and rude to me when I dared cross her path with my cart and two kids. Since my nature is to immediately feel awful for anything that upsets someone else – and it was so obviously I upset her as she snottily exclaimed, “Jeezus. Just cut me off why don’t you and don’t even apologize” – I followed her to grovel for forgiveness. She was even ruder to me at that moment as she was on her cell phone bitching about me, “This girl and her kids just cut me off without even looking at me…”) and she just waved her hand in my face and shoo’ed me away like, Whatever, little girl. Go away now. I was shaken and upset. I reanalyzed the situation hundreds of times that day and came to one simple conclusion: I did nothing wrong. She was just a bitch. But it still wounded me. Upset me. Causes me to now brace for an attack anytime my cart cuts off someone at the end of an aisle.

I told the story several times that weekend, but I have – since then – slowly started to erase the event from my mind. This is a gift I’ve always possessed, the ability to actually forget the hurt people have caused me. I’ve actually run into people from my past before and been so excited to see them that I’ve hugged them and greeted them fondly. Only to later remember that maybe we ended on bad terms and that they were expecting the cold shoulder from me. I think my subconscious doesn’t want these incidents to have power over me. My conscious self wants to never forget the woman’s face so that if I ever see her again I can punch her in the gut. But my subconscious self? Knows better. Knows that gives this horrible woman power over my positive spirit and I realize that the memory is faded.

I had to go drop off a prescription at Target on Monday. Right as we got there it started pouring. And I mean pouring. I opened the umbrella and it flipped inside out. I usually don’t even bother with umbrellas anyway because it takes away a hand that can hold/carry a child. My theory has always been to move faster in the rain and leave the umbrella in the car. But NikkiZ wanted me to try. Since the umbrella was useless and I didn’t want to sit in the car for hours and wait…I put NikkiZ on my back and carried AndyZ on my front and we started running. There was a kind woman leaving Target who offered us her umbrella was we passed her. She just offered it…Here! You take this! I don’t need it! I laughed, thanked her as forcefully as I could for her wonderful kindness, and kept running.

There was no point in the umbrella. Two steps in the rain and we were already soaked. But we didn’t care. It was funny and we were laughing. Maybe a little cold inside the air-conditioning of the store, but still laughing. But that wonderful woman…she was about to hand over her umbrella…just give it to me…because it was so obvious we were in need. And there are many more like her I encounter every day. People who just smile when I cut them off at Target and commiserate about losing momentum on those buggies. People who let me in on a busy road. People who laugh at my children’s antics instead of grumble that they even exist. There are tons of wonderful and loving people in the world and I want to remember every one of their faces. I tried to stamp the kind smile of that woman who offered me her umbrella in my mind forever. I don’t want to forget her. I want my subconscious to hold on to her face and show it to me when the ugly people of the world pop up. To remind me that I have the power to let the rude and the hateful people roll away into infinity and I can hold onto the kind and the loving forever.

I will figure out a way to repay that woman some day. Maybe not by giving away an umbrella, since I obviously never carry one. But I’ll figure out a way. Even if it’s just adding more kindness to my general interactions with people. Anything to pass on the joy that the woman with the umbrella gave me on Monday. That reminder that there are truly kind and good people in the world. And I truly hope that simple gesture comes back to that woman 100 times over…that her kindness returns over and over again. I’d really like her to know that the crazy lady carrying two kids in the pouring rain will always remember her kind gesture, even if she didn’t take the umbrella.

21 thoughts on “You offered me much more than your umbrella.”

  1. That tweet made my day – I am SO glad you shared the story for those who don’t catch all of your twitter stream.

    The term “random acts of kindness” sadly is so over-used these days that folks (including me!) forget the true meaning behind it.

    re: rain in general – my kids love getting caught in a storm and they have taught me to let go. Anjali shouts “stick your tongue out!” And I do just that.

  2. You pass it forward – you may not see Umbrella-lady again but you can show that care and love to another person like a whole long line. If someone lets me out of a junction on my way to work I try and let someone else out the next time I can (obviously without causing a pile up or something lol)

  3. I love this post and I love that you are so reflective about yourself and your actions. As a teacher, I think (or I hope) that I reflect on the learning to improve myself, but I don’t think I do this enough in everyday life. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. I feel like I NEVER FORGET the bad things that happen, but I’ve noticed in the last year or two that sometimes I go to tell a story and….can’t remember it clearly. That’s new to me, and SO WONDERFUL. Even if it means early-onset senility or something.

  5. Awe. You are so nice and kind. You make me want to be a better Mommy. Your munchkins are very lucky to have you :)

  6. If you sent this to your local paper, I bet you they would print it. It is so well written! Great story Zoot!

  7. Thank you so much for this post! It could not have come at a better time. I was just in an eternal line at my son’s high school registration and the teen behind me got stung by a bee. It was quite tragic for her and because my 5 year old is allergic to mosquitos, I had some hydrocortisone cream in my purse. I offered it to them and her mother very thankfully took it and said thank you. Later in the car, my son told me of his friend’s girlfriend who got STUNG BY A BEE IN LINE! She told them that some creepy lady in line tried to give her ointment! This really hurt my feelings as I was just trying to help her out and I thought to myself that that was the last time I try to help someone. No one appreciates kind gestures anymore. But you have made me remember that most people really do appreciate it and have melted my heart back to the helper that I always try to be toward others.

    THANK YOU!!

  8. I love this. I would have had the same reaction to the first Target woman. Only I would remember it days, weeks, months and years later. I wish i could be more like you.

  9. I have a little blog called Celebrating Lovely, where I just collect the lovely things I see/read/hear/observe, and I just posted a link to this lovely post over there: http://www.celebratelovely.com/2010/07/adding-more-kindness.html

    I’m not having the best day (an understatement), but I came here and read this and got some perspective: what I’m all upset doesn’t matter as much as it feels like, and that there is a lot more beauty and kindness in the world than not, even if we have to sort of will it into being. So thank you for this important message – it meant more to me than you know.

  10. I started this thing on my blog where I post about people I call “everyday heroes”. People who don’t don a yellow cape and fly through the air, but save the world, one act at a time. I love this story. I think this woman is a hero. For more about everyday heroes…
    http://www.themindofifer.com/?p=537

  11. I have never had a rude encounter in Our city that I can remember. But boy oh boy when I was living in Boulder CO there were so many a-holes! When I look back on it now I believe it had to do with that town being so tiny and so many people crowded in it. Hmmm, guess I’ll never know. I used to be so sensitive to being pushed around by people. I’m not as bad anymore. Once I came back to our city, I started being kind to strangers again. Once I held my umbrella over a lady and her infant in a carseat all the way to their car and then turned back to the store again. If you have time sometime, you should watch Jimmy Buffet’s A-hole video on youtube(not for little ears obviously) You can pretend it’s Target freak lady!Bwa ha ha!

  12. Pay it forward Zoot ~ and you should have given that nasty woman a “flat tire” when you accidentally cut her off ~ you know hit the back of her heels with the shopping cart – now that would have given her a reason to be such a stank butt to you. lol just kidding- kinda

  13. Thanks for sharing the beauty out! And I know you closed comments on the sitting room, but YAY for your pictures on the wall! (sorry for breaking the rules)

    Annie S, I swear Boulder has a lot of nice in it – although it has changed a lot in the last 15 years- it has a lot more families and kid-friendliness now, which is great, even though it has just gotten (ugh) bigger!

  14. I know EXACTLY what you mean! One time I was at the grocery store and I had my toddler in one of those carts where the car is in the front. I misjudged the distance and bumped into a lady’s heels as I was leaving the store. I immediately apologized, but she went OFF on me, calling me a “stupid b*tch” and saying I must be blind. I am talking crazy rant. I just kept apologizing, but she kept screaming so I maneuvered around her and headed to my car. I was really upset initially, but finally came to the same conclusion as you did. Love your post about it!

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