I routinely observe small acts of kindness in my college campus cafés, where a combination of hunger, fatigue, and hurry can make students forgetful and inattentive. But a little bit of care and a teeny commitment of time can make someone else’s day and spread kindness along the way.
1. Look out for lost belongings
A cell phone left on the counter is returned to the cash registers, and a worried student comes back, elated by a happy outcome.
2. There are a lot of things to carry … lend a hand
While pouring a drink at the soda dispenser, the lid doesn’t fit properly on the cup and in a effort to put the two together, a student forgets his sandwich at another counter, and as he is about to pay, finds the pleasant surprise of a hand extending from the side, saying, “I think this is yours, you left it over there.”
3. Help out someone hungrier than you – share
Strangers give away their sides, cookies, or cupcakes to someone sitting nearby at the table who’s been working on coding homework six hours straight without a food break. There’s no time for a food break as the assignment is due very soon and the surprise of a gratifying bite feels so delicious.
4. Be kind to the Earth when you eat
Not only are directions for recycling not as specific as they should be in many dining locations, but the nature of vending the food is often not eco-friendly either. Every meal wastes a plate and a cup. The wrap is usually enough packaging for sandwiches so ask the person serving the food to not give you a plate. Bring your own reusable bottle and pour a drink from a dispenser rather than buying a bottle or filling up a plastic cup. These small habits executed at large scale can have significant impact and improve all our lives in the long run.
5. Be friendly for no reason
The effort both students and workers put into making the environment friendlier and just a bit more cheerful than a routine workday or school day normally would be is greatly appreciated by most people, who instead of gloomily waiting in lines, find ways to connect with each others’ lives and share aspects of their own lives with others. This is the climate of the café when I go to use one of my meal blocks, where despite hunger and stress between classes, day after day I bear witness to my friends, classmates, and fellow students consistently placing others before themselves and their own needs.