The Unexpected from Kindness

Matthew 7:12

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I spent about two and a half years living in downtown Detroit. I was going to school at Wayne State, and lived in one of the slum tenements just off campus, complete with cockroaches and a garden hose to stretch from my kitchen to the bathroom where I had a Sears portable shower nailed to the wall.

Parking was dicey, at best, with spaces usually quite rare. I paid a monthly fee to park my raggedy ’68 Rambler station wagon in a gravel lot.  It had a heavy chain and padlock on the hood to prevent ANOTHER battery from being stolen.

I had just parked one Sunday morning after returning from church when two men approached me and asked I had jumper cables to borrow. I guess they figured a heap like mine was guaranteed to have cables!  Their car was broken down on the Lodge Freeway.  They earnestly promised to return them to me at my apartment once they got their car going.

I had two things going against me doing the sensible thing. 1) I had just come from church.  2) I read my Bible and prayed daily.  Knowing I’d never see those nice jumper cables ever again, I handed them over and gave them my address.

I walked to my building, trudged up three floors to my apartment, got comfortable in front of the TV for football, and tried not to think too hard about my long-gone jumper cables.

I heard my name shouted beneath my window a short while later. Well, what do you know?  There they were, holding up those bright orange cables to me.  Downtown Detroit.  The corner of Forest & Second, just a few blocks off Woodward.  Who would’ve thought…?

Years later, not long after I married, I worked at an appliance store; refrigerators, stoves, electronics…you know the deal. So one day I’m standing there like the rest, waiting for a customer to walk in.  Please, walk in!  We were dying.  I saw an old Mexican guy walk in.  He was covered in salesman repellent.  It had to be, because everyone scattered none to delicately.

I felt bad for the ol’ boy and asked him if I could help him. He wanted a boom box.  My department.  So I showed him all we had, answered his questions, and he finally settled on one.  A VERY expensive one.  As we walked to the office area to have him pay and get his receipt, he reached deep into his pocket and pulled out some money.

Well, no, that isn’t exactly right. He pulled out a wad, a neatly rolled, fist-sized collection of bills he could juuuust get his hand around.  As he flipped through them to peel off what he needed, I saw nothing smaller than a fifty.  When he had payment in hand and put that big roll back in his pocket, he looked up at me and gave me a semi-toothless grin.

“Some people think I don’t smell too good, but I think my money smells OK, eh?

“Sir, I don’t smell a thing!”

We often talk about unexpected kindnesses being the sort of thing that can turn a day or week around. I ask you now, what about the unexpected you can get from doing a kindness?

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