Kindness in the Time of Covid
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Kindness in the Time of Covid

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The world has officially gone crazy.

Every news feed and social media debate has become completely cuckoo bananas. People get ramped up about the weirdest things. Rants on community social media about neighbourhood parking peeves. People losing their tempers over things that wouldn’t have fazed them six months ago. And the political climate?
I. Can’t. Even.

I get it. I haven’t been a full throttle Youtube Karen, but I have been Karen-adjacent. I have vegetated in front of the streaming service of my choice with all the potato chips for days at a time. I have entertained thoughts of home invasions that would be less traumatizing than being put on hold by a service provider for one more minute.

I do my best to give grace to those I don’t always feel deserve it. I reserve my wrath instead of taking it out on the innocent customer service rep. I breathe deep and smile and keep my homicidal fantasies to myself. And I long for opportunities of real connection in society’s new normal where we all have to keep our distance.

This exact kind of connection happened just the other day.

My friend and I were shopping at IKEA. Fear not – she is a pandemic cohort and we wore our masks. She was shopping for her new condo. I was shopping for new dishes and décor items. I recommend the Strimmig collection, by the way.

We were sent to different checkout lines. I finished well before her, because she got stuck behind someone who had issues with their checkout experience. I saw her cute little bobble bun pop up as she looked for me. She texted that she would be a bit, I should go to the car and wait for her there.

Because I rarely do what I’m told, I waited for her by the exit. She eventually caught up and out we went out to load our purchases into the vehicle. We had just organized all our breakables into the back seat, complete with the seat belt tugged snugly around her lovely new vase, when a sweet older couple approached us. Inside my mind I named them Stan and Lois. I don’t know their actual names. It’s a me thing, naming random strangers.

Leaning on her cane, Lois asked “Excuse me — Can you help us? We are looking for Ricky’s restaurant.”

“It looked close enough for us to walk from our hotel,”’ said Stan. “We know it’s nearby, but we can’t seem to find it.”

My friend and I looked at each other. We immediately agreed, without a spoken word, that we would do whatever it took to help this couple.

“I’d be happy to drive you there” I offered.

“Oh my goodness — that would be too much trouble. We couldn’t ask you to do that!”, Stan and Lois agreed. “We would be happy to!”, my friend and I insisted. In actual fact, my friend and I welcome any opportunity for adventure and shenanigans. We call this kind of adventure a “chair run”.

A few weeks ago she needed a ride to pick up an office chair someone was giving her for her home office. No big deal, until you add road construction at a major interchange where lanes and exit ramps change daily. My dad used to say “You can get there, but you can’t get there from here”. That quip never proved more true!

A trip that should have taken less than an hour tops took over two hours. Wrong turns, wrong exit ramps, and a useless navigation system gave us ample time to talk and learn things about each other we never knew. We loved every minute of it. We decided then and there we would never ignore a chance to go on a chair run in the future.

So while Stan and Lois protested that it was asking too much and we really shouldn’t put ourselves out, my friend and I laughed as we looked at each other and exclaimed “Chair Run!”

We began to move everything from the backseat to the hatch back of my SUV. “Oh my!” Lois exclaimed. “You girls had a good time today!” Stan watched us transferring everything to the back, looking somewhat bewildered, likely wondering how the ice skates fit into our IKEA purchases.

Everything now stowed in the back, Stan and Lois were safely buckled into the backseat, and off we went. I activated the on board GPS just to be sure.

We circled Ikea twice, trying to figure out how to get there from here. As usual, the GPS was no help at all. Clearly it realized we were on a chair run and completely gave up on us.

We chatted and laughed. We learned Stan and Lois were visiting from Ontario. They learned that Calgarians really are as friendly as advertised. We delivered them to the door of the restaurant amid their profuse thanks. We welcomed them to Calgary and wished them a pleasant visit.

On the way home my friend and I discussed our encounter with Stan and Lois. They were so sweet. There was no way we were going to make them walk so much as across the street once we saw her cane. We wondered about possible scenarios that would cause them to risk air travel from Toronto to Calgary.

And then we realized it. Had I gone to the car to wait for my friend I likely would have left the parking space and pulled up closer to the door to wait for her. I would have missed out on Stan and Lois.

If she hadn’t gotten stuck in an inconvenient checkout line behind someone with issues, we would have missed out on Stan and Lois.

I had debated even going to Ikea in the first place. Had we not gone, we would have missed out on Stan and Lois. And some great looking dishes.

The moral of the story?

Allow yourself to be inconvenienced from time to time. Be mindful of the little moments. The little opportunities to help someone. To put a smile on someone’s face. To be kind. Especially in the time of Covid. Kindness is needed more than ever these days.

And when an opportunity for adventure and shenanigans presents itself, do the chair run. You won’t regret it!

Oh — and God bless Stan and Lois, wherever they are today.

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