Circling the block one more time, I decided I might actually make it to the meeting on time when I saw the car pull out of the spot directly in front of the building.
It meant I would have to parallel park though — not my best skill. The other option was to drive another four blocks to the lot with my kind of parking spots — straight on.
Parallel parking won out, and I actually pulled off a respectable parking job.
Right on time, I bounced out of my car and headed to the meter, only to discover I had no change to feed it. Not one dime, nickel, quarter, nothing.
And this predated the app-based meter payment options we now have, allowing us to use a credit card. Coins were the only option.
My momentary win with the parking saga quickly faded into frustration as I hurriedly plundered the console in my car, looked between the seats and scanned the sidewalks.
How could I have not thought to bring change for the meter?
Why did I not give myself more time so I could have walked from the free parking area?
On and on I went scolding myself until a man with a gentle spirit passed by me on the sidewalk.
Two quarters would make everything OK in that moment so I swallowed my pride, got his attention and asked if he might cover the price of my meter.
He didn’t hesitate nor did he linger. He walked over to the front of my car, pulled two quarters out of his pocket and dropped them in the meter.
As he turned the knob, he challenged me to do the same for someone else in need.
I thanked him and accepted his challenge — but I also determined I would take it one step farther.
Instead of having to be asked, I determined I would strive to be so aware of my surroundings and those around me that I would be able to sense when a need exists.
My friend, Janet, advocates for this type of kindness as a way to share the Light inside us.
It might be letting the person with only two items go in front of you in the grocery line or allowing the car stuck behind the stalled vehicle back over into the flow of traffic, she says.
Maybe it is leaving a larger than normal tip. Or maybe it is as simple as sharing a smile and being kind to others we pass each day.
Another friend reminded me of the importance of choosing kindness when he opened up about his three-year battle with deep depression.
Several years on the other side of it now, he finally feels confident to share — determined he isn’t going back into the pit.
I’m not around him often, so it’s not surprising he was able to hide the debilitating experience from me.
I do remember contacting him once or twice during that time and receiving an oddly cold reception, almost as if he were annoyed at my call.
Instead of checking on him or acknowledging that something seemed out of character, I determined I must have called at a bad time and let it go.
An interesting note about this particular friend is that he is the one who many years ago introduced me to the concept of always being kind to others no matter how they behave because we don’t know what’s happening in their lives at that moment.
A famous quote about this concept says, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
For as long as I’ve known him, my friend has used a version of this quote along with a Scripture reference at the end of his email messages after his name.
I haven’t located the original source of the quote. It seems to have been attributed most often to a variety of Greek philosophers and on occasion to a handful of modern-day bloggers.
No matter who first said it, the point is clear.
Colossians 3:12 says it even better: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
So when someone in the service industry is rude to us or our friend doesn’t return our calls, we should respond with kindness and love, showing grace rather than getting upset.
If someone close to us chooses not to share about a difficult situation he or she is facing, then we can find other ways to support and care for him or her without being upset about not knowing the specifics. We can still pray, and we can always be kind.
Whatever it might be, our simple, kind gestures will always leave a lasting impression.