Posted by: Nancy | March 30, 2010

Cars and Kind People

Three vignettes:

Driving through a busy and complicated intersection last week, traffic was slow to move even though there was a green light.

No apparent reason, no accident, no flashing lights. I could see agitated faces in the cars around. What was the holdup?

Slowly, the car ahead of me inched forward. We inched along, and then, I understood: the cause of the slowdown was a pair of Canada geese, which were purposefully striding down the middle of the roadway, picking a path to the other side, through this complicated intersection.

A couple of birdlovers hovered protectively, and one stood by her car, waving at folks approaching.

No one honked. No angry words. Lots of smiles and thumbs up to the folks in the cars who patiently let the grand birds complete their march.

The geese made their way safely to their destination.

***

In a hospital parking lot, I’m making my way on foot across the lane.

A woman in an SUV is fast approaching, so I stop. She’s gesturing for me to go ahead, and I’m smiling and inviting her to go first.

A moment’s hesitation, we both pause.

We both start up, simultaneously. And quickly stop again, abruptly. We’re both laughing now, at the absurdly uncertain choreography we’re performing together.

I scurry across, waving and grinning. She waves too. She’s smiling, too.

***

In an outdoor parking lot, it’s the morning after the first day of spring — the morning after our seven-inch snowfall. Everything is messy; piles of snow, slush and puddles everywhere.

We’ve just settled in the car, doors closed now. We’re getting seat belts on and chatting.

Suddenly, a tap on the window. A stranger, a gentleman, has come over to the car to alert my husband that part of his coat didn’t make it inside the car. It’s hanging outside, nearly dipping into a pool of slushy dirty ice water.

It’s a simple act, only a moment to save a couple of unknowns (us) some later dismay and cleanup. Smiles all around, we offer thanks and head away.

Three simple acts of decency, courtesy, humanity.

Among Kansas City drivers, more often than not, this is the norm. There’s a civility here. You almost never hear horns honking — too rude — unless there’s a real emergency. At most, you might hear a gentle beep if you’re caught daydreaming or birdwatching (my most common offense) at a stoplight.  It’s a place where people like to smile, where people like to think of themselves as decent, even big-hearted.

You see it in the little actions, like these. I just wanted to stop and notice it, with appreciation.

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