Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote,
Hemning Sternberg

What I did yesterday.

In Boston on Monday, an act of public violence shocked us. I'm lucky that I wasn't hurt, nor were any of my loved ones. But it's a tough week to live in Beantown and I'd never deny that.

For me, Tuesday was the toughest day so far. I went to work. There were few people on the streets, on the subway, or in the office. Those who were there were low in spirits. I saw a number of people wearing running gear to commemorate the marathon runners affected by this tragedy. Some were crying.

I got through my whole day, including work, class, and errand running. When I finally got home around eight-thirty at night, I had no resources left. Still wearing my jacket and holding my purse, I sat at the kitchen table and bawled while my cats looked at me in confusion.

The next morning, I considered taking a personal day. But I knew what I wanted to do instead.

On the way to work, I picked up three bags of candy. I said to the man behind the counter, "You know, this is a hard week for us here in Boston." He said, "I know. I've lived here five years. Never anything like this before." I took a breath and said, "I decided to give out candy to strangers today. Would you like to be the first?" He said yes, and I gave him a Hershey's kiss, and one for his coworker stocking the shelves.

Then I gave a candy each to the homeless kids on the corner.

I put a piece of candy in the station attendant's window as I went into the subway station. I could hear him laughing in surprised delight as I walked through the gate.

I handed candy out on the platform. I gave one to the guy playing the cello. When the train pulled in, I gave one to the conductor, who gave me a huge, incredulous smile in return. A woman inside the train said, "Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you for caring."

When I got off the train, I gave a piece to the subway maintenance worker with his broom, and one to the transit official who was sitting on the platform to make sure everything was okay. I handed out candy to the army guys keeping the station safe for us. The state police with their motorcycles laughed and flirted and asked for extra candy, which I gave them.

Then I went to work on my office building. I work in a twelve-story downtown, and I handed out candy starting on the floor where I work, then on the floor above, and the floor below. I gave candy to people I see every day and some I'd never met before. I kept going until I'd given away every piece of candy in the three bags I bought. On the way home, I bought more.

It seemed like this small gesture made a lot of people feel better. One woman said that she was going to save the candy for later, and that she knew that when she ate it, she was going to feel a warm feeling inside. One man said that he thought receiving it would inspire him to do a similar act of kindness later in the day. Some people seemed on the verge of tears.

But I'll let you in on a secret. I didn't do it to make them feel better. I did it to make me feel better. And it worked. Planning this got me out of bed yesterday. Remembering it is what got me out of bed today.

I think we're going to be okay, here. But still, consider doing something for someone else today. It may or may not brighten their day. But I'm sure it will improve yours.

"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." - Scott Adams
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