Last week, a close friend and I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by watching The Photograph together. Riding the high of Black love, Black storytelling, and movie theater popcorn, I hailed a taxi home in an especially good mood. A few blocks later, that mood was disrupted when the taxi I was in got rear-ended by an SUV. After the initial shock, David*, the person driving the taxi, and I chatted through how we could safely exit the vehicle in the middle of busy traffic to assess the damage to his car and exchange insurance information with the person behind us. Turns out, our plan hit a snag when the person who rear-ended us drove off as soon as the light changed. We then had to band together to call the police and his car insurance company since his taxi was a loaner that he’d rented that morning while his own car was being serviced.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood after witnessing someone do something pretty rude while nursing my head from the shock. But, while we were waiting on the cab, I got to witness so many acts of kindness. First, a man riding one of those scooters you can rent stopped and signaled to me through the window to ask if I was ok. It was such a small gesture but meant the world to me. He saw me in a cab that wasn’t moving with the hazard lights on and wanted to make sure nothing bad was happening. Then, a woman who was waiting at a bus stop nearby ran over to let us know she saw everything, corroborated the car description and license plate, and promised to stay and chat with the police. Finally, the first responders were so kind as they checked on our health and took our stories. David and I also had an opportunity to bond as we share cultural backgrounds and I helped translate for him as he had to speak with different police and insurance representatives.
As a woman, especially as a Black woman, I often feel unsafe while I’m out in the world. And it felt so affirming to experience kindness from strangers, making sure that David and I were safe and unhurt. I would have rather not been in a car that was rear-ended, but I am grateful I had the opportunity to witness such kindness from strangers.
This Random Acts of Kindness Week, I am challenging myself to check in with others in the same way that others checked in with me last week. I hope I don’t happen upon any car accidents, but I can send a text to a friend, share a smile and kind words with a stranger, or pay for the person behind me in line at my neighborhood coffee shop. These are the gestures of kindness that feel small, but absolutely have the power to transform someone’s day. I hope you’ll join me in being there for others this week and beyond.
*David’s name has been changed for his privacy.