Earlier this week, I was rear-ended by an uninsured driver. Empathetic to her situation, I was kind and friendly. I asked about her family, shrugged off the damage, and choose not to file a police report. I smiled. Things like this happen. Everyone was okay. I collected her information and we parted ways.
I recruited my mother to deal with insurance, as I’m a bit of a pushover when it comes to legal professionals. The woman had no insurance and no money to pay the insurance. I did not collect her phone number; I realized later that I should have.
This morning, I received an email from my mother: the insurance company called, the woman asked them to give me her number. She wants to help out, however she can. Because I was understanding, emphatic, and kind, she has chosen to embody the same qualities. She didn’t have to. She could have easily disappeared.
Had I yelled or gotten nasty with her, she surely would have. I would not have been able to bridge our common human nature. I would not have earned her respect. I would not have given her a reason to care about me, about my situation.
My empathy and my softness are often my downfall. People take advantage of my kindness. Swiveling around my emotional axes, I pass resentment, apathy, and universal love–one at a time, never quite able to find balance.
How especially beautiful it is, then, when kindness pays. When treating others well not only feels good, but eases monetary and legal burdens. When the universe places its finger over my lips, hushing my “too-nice” self-criticisms before they grow too out-of-proportion.
I am not sure, sometimes, whether this is our future, whether the masses are beginning to recognize and embrace the power of kindness and empathy. Or whether it’s just me: a bubbly, effusive orb of light and love and life, drawing a particular breed or eliciting particular behaviors.
I am not sure. But there is one thing I do know, one thing that I have learned, again and again:
It always pays to be kind.