Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

Kindness; The stories inside your story.

People often ask how this project started and invariably we tell the story of how we first met, moved into a house in Victoria, bought a video camera and started filming our adventures in altruism as a reaction to all the negativity in the media. The back-story to the Kindness Crew and the foundations laid in our lives leading up to these adventures are equally important but far less mentioned.

Everyone has a story they tell about how they ended up where they are today. (Think about the last time someone asked you, “So, tell me about yourself”. Depending on what you are trying to convey and the amount of time available, you will inevitably tell the stories of your life to create a holistic picture. It’s amazing how those stories can stick with you. Several of the stories I recall are actually the stories passed on by other people that have shaped the way I interact with the world.

My challenge to you this week is to think about some of the kind stories, yours or someone else’s, that have shaped the way you exist in the world. (Then post them)

Here is one of those stories passed on to me by my Dad probably 15 years ago.



Love And The Cabbie

By Art Buchwald

I was in New York the other day and rode with a friend in a taxi. When we got out, my friend said to the driver, “Thank you for the ride. You did a superb job of driving.”

The taxi driver was stunned for a second. Then he said, “Are you a wise guy or something?”

“No, my dear man, and I’m not putting you on. I admire the way you keep cool in heavy traffic.”

“Yeah,” the driver said and drove off.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

I am trying to bring love back to New York,” he said. “I believe it’s the only thing that can save the city.”

“How can one man save New York?”

“It’s not one man. I believe I have made that taxi driver’s day. Suppose he has 20 fares. He’s going to be nice to those 20 fares because someone was nice to him. Those fares in turn will be kinder to their employees or shopkeepers or waiters or even their own families. Eventually the goodwill could spread to at least 1,000 people. Now that isn’t bad, is it?”

“But you’re depending on that taxi driver to pass your goodwill to others.”

“I’m not depending on it,” my friend said. “I’m aware that the system isn’t foolproof so I might deal with ten different people today. If out of ten I can make three happy, then eventually I can indirectly influence the attitudes of 3,000 more.”

“It sounds good on paper,” I admitted, “but I’m not sure it words in practice.”

“Nothing is lost if it doesn’t. It didn’t take any of my time to tell that man he was doing a good job. He neither received a larger tip nor a smaller tip. If it fell on deaf ears, so what? Tomorrow there will be another taxi driver I can try to make happy.”

“You’re some kind of a nut,” I said.

“That shows how cynical you have become. I have made a study of this. The thing that seems to be lacking, besides money of course, for our postal employees, is that no one tells people who work for the post office what a good job they’re doing.”

“But they’re not doing a good job.”

“They’re not doing a good job because they feel no one cares if they do or not. Why shouldn’t someone say a kind word to them?”

We were walking past a structure in the process of being built and passed five workmen eating their lunch. My friend stopped. “That’s a magnificent job you men have done. It must be difficult and dangerous work.”

The workmen eyed my friend suspiciously.

“When will it be finished?”

“June, a man grunted.

“Ah. That really is impressive. You must all be very proud.”

We walked away. I said to him, “I haven’t seen anyone like you since The Man From LaMancha.”

“When those men digest my words, they will feel better for it. Somehow the city will benefit from their happiness.”

“But you can’t do this all alone!” I protested. “You’re just one man.”

“The most important thing is not to get discouraged. Making people in the city become kind again is not an easy job, but if I can enlist other people in my campaign. . .”

You just winked at a very plain-looking woman,” I said.

“Yes, I know,” he replied. “And if she’s a schoolteacher, her class will be in for a fantastic day.”

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One Response to “Kindness; The stories inside your story.”

  1. Jen Says:
    April 29th, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Love and the Cabbie is one of those inspirational stories that I have heard several times over the years, and always at a time when I needed a gentle reminder. It’s also one of those stories I think of when I start feeling frustrated with the way things are going (or not), worried about whether or not I am actually making a difference, scared that I am not living up to my full potential, overburdened with the everyday …

    Erik, you asked us to post other stories like this. Love and the Cabbie, for me, goes hand-in-hand with the Starfish story (I’m sure it has a proper title but I’ll be darned if I know it!).

    - – - – - – - – - – - -
    Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his journal writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

    One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving towards him very slowly, bending down to the sand and then straightening, very gracefully, over and over again. He began to walk faster to catch up.

    As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man who was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

    As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

    “I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”

    “The sun is up, and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

    “But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

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