When I was seven, my older sister took me to the carnival that had set up in the parking lot of the biggest shopping center in town. Night had fallen, and the air on this crisp October evening was filled with laughter, dizzying screams, and the smell of cotton candy as we hurried towards the Tempest ride.
We were standing in line – with both anticipation and fear – as we watched the current riders disembark, the smiles on their faces a stark contrast to their pale skin and stumbling gaits.
It was right about then that something happened that I will never forget.
A group of kids from my elementary school showed up. These kids were related somehow (a brother and two sisters I believe), and were in the Special Education classes. I have no idea what their home life entailed, but their clothes were usually tattered and dirty – as was their hair. Every kid in school knew them – but didn’t know them.
Laughing, these kids ran past me, my sister, and everyone else in line and up the metal ramp that led to the Tempest.
“Hey!” yelled the boy who was operating the ride (and yes, he was a boy, probably no older than seventeen).
The kids turned around, their broad smiles reflecting their naive innocence in a world that would rather sweep them aside than deal with them.
“You can’t ride without a ticket,” explained the boy. He was tall and thin, and wore a blue mechanic’s uniform. His belt was cinched at the last notch, but the pants still hung on him.
“Here.” Reaching into his shirt pocket with a thumb and forefinger that was covered in grease, the boy pulled out a handful of dollar bills and gave it to the oldest kid in the group. “Go buy some tickets,” he said, pointing at the ticket booth a few yards away, “and then come back and you can ride.”
The smile never leaving their faces, the kids scrambled down the ramp and ran towards the ticket booth.
I’m sure no one ever thanked that boy for doing what he did. The money in his pocket was probably all that he had, and yet he gave it without hesitation.
More years have passed than I care to count since that night, but I’ll never forget that young man’s empathy and compassion he showed…for it has left an indelible impression upon my heart.
What are some acts of kindness that you have witnessed someone doing or done yourself? I would love for you to tell me by leaving a comment below.
Belinda G. Buchanan is a wife, mother, lover of all animals, and an author of Women’s Fiction and Mystery novels.