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By: Jamie Collins

“Kindness is a hard thing to give away;
it keeps coming back to the giver.”
– Ralph Scott

Over the past year or so, since launching The Paralegal Society, joining a few paralegal boards, speaking at schools, and attempting to offer a kind word or support to newbies and others where I could, I’ve definitely lived and learned the power and truth contained in the quote preceding these words. Today, I’m here to share a few stories with you. We’ll get to the point of today’s post a bit later.

Random Act of Kindness, Part I

One day last week, my husband Chris decided to swing through a local drive thru for breakfast prior to making the busy morning commute into the land of finance.  He placed his order, with vivid mental images of buttery, delicious biscuits at the forefront of his mind, just prior to rolling up the driver’s side window to avoid being hit by the chilly air.  He began to pull forward toward the payment window, simultaneously pulling his wallet from his back pocket. With an outstretched arm holding a debit card, he was greeted by a smile from the gracious lady working the drive thru window. She told him, “Honey, you don’t owe anything. The car in front of you just paid for your breakfast.”

My husband was baffled. This feeling quickly turned to a state of total surprise, followed by an immediate onset of free breakfast elation! He assumed the random stranger in the vehicle directly in front of him had purchased his breakfast that morning as a kind gesture with the intention of “paying it forward.” Chris decided that he, too, would pay it forward by purchasing breakfast for the next car in line behind him. The only problem was – there wasn’t a car behind him. So instead, he spent the remainder of his day remembering this kind and unexpected gesture from a random stranger.  Later that evening, he shared this story with us over dinner.

The price of a “free” breakfast?

I’m guessing about $5.00.

Random Act of Kindness, Part II

Recently, my firm allowed me to hire a Paralegal Intern named Stephanie. She, like many paralegals out there, is having a great deal of difficulty securing her first paralegal gig with no prior legal experience. (We’ll save that particular topic for another day. Lord knows we could write three dozen articles on that topic alone).  Anyway, we hired Stephanie to help at our office, and more specifically, to help me with various tasks and projects, as needed.

In turn, I am teaching her all of the daily nuances associated with working in the personal injury realm. You know, all of the fun things an aspiring paralegal would like to know: what it’s really like; what I like most about my career; the specifics of personal injury law; all the things I’d like to pretend are not an essential requirement of my job (filing, anyone?); a grand array of tips, time savers and pointers learned from many timed trials through the legal gauntlet; and an abundance of general information one would expect to learn after having spent a stint working alongside yours truly in the PI field two times each week.

The other day, Stephanie arrived at the firm. She stepped into my office to greet me, prior to making her way down the long corridor toward her desk. As she entered my corner of the legal universe, I noticed she was holding two small, white, square containers in her hands, which at the time, appeared to be Chinese take-out boxes.  She had a big smile pasted across her face as she stated, “One of these is for you.  I stopped and bought cupcakes. One is red velvet and the other is wedding cake – which do you want?

So, after I stopped myself from abruptly springing up from my chair like I was a World Champion Olypmian Pole Vaulter in route to the gold, striding across my office in a full-blown, high-heeled sprint to hug her, like a long lost relative I hadn’t seen in 20 years bearing sugary confections (Note to self: Do not rise from the chair and run for sugary, caloric goodness – remain calm, cool, collected…and in your chair), I remain firmly planted, tell her I’d love the wedding cake one, and thank her. Turns out, it was a gourmet cupcake from a fancy bakery I’ve never tried.

A few hours later, I took my first bite of that divine piece of confectioner’s brilliance. This tasting occurred just one moment prior to the launching of a full-on, paralegal, cupcake eating frenzy occuring desk-side. That little singular cake topped with billows of almond-flavored, butter cream icing and adorned with a small, yellow flower made my entire day in the land of legal. I may be no World Class Olympian, my friends, but I could totally enter the ranks of glory among the cupcake eating connoisseurs of the legal world. Buttercream icing? Bring. It. On. You better believe, it was divine.

The price?

I’m guessing about $3.00.

The Point of This Post

Why am I sharing these two seemingly unrelated stories today? Because they illustrate something important. A point that is far too often overlooked by me, you, and everyone else in our society. The fact that it takes very little to make another person’s day special. All that is needed is an inexpensive, but wildly creative gesture. In these instances – the cost was about $3.00-$5.00, spent in a very thoughtful and unexpected way. Someone could have given Chris a free donut, me a candy bar or dropped off a box of bagels in the break rooms as a group endowment, but these interesting and unique “free” gifts made us feel special. The effect these small gestures had upon our day was remarkable.

Let me ask you this: How much is your employer paying you to work an 8 hour shift today? We’ll say more than $100.00.

In comparison, $3-$5 could buy someone you encounter an entire day of happiness if you take it upon yourself to get a wee bit creative and take the “good human” plunge.

So the next time you find yourself in the mood to do a little something nice for someone else, perhaps a family member, friend, co-worker or random stranger, do yourself a favor, and choose to make a strategic $3-$5 spend in someone else’s honor. Invest a few bucks to help transform a person’s day from expected and ordinary to unexpectedly fabulous. Three to five bucks is such a small price to pay for a daily transformation and the accompanying mood elevation it will elicit on the part of the recipient.

Maybe those unexpected recipients will also decide to pay it forward, and local bakeries and morning drive thru windows all across America, and beyond, will begin to wonder why all of these people are paying it forward with random acts of kindness disguised in the form of buttery biscuits and delightful little cakes piped in butter-cream frosting. Who knows?

What I do know is this:

You are just $3-5 away from doing something spectacular.

Buttercream, biscuits or random acts of kindness cost so little, but go so very far.

_____

Hey TPSers – We’d like to invite you to take part in the “Random Acts of Kindness” challenge. Find one person in your life (maybe someone you know, perhaps a random stranger) you can bestow a small, unexpected gift upon in the coming week! Can we count you in?

Have an absolutely fabulous weekend outside the land of paralegal milk and honey…we mean swirling sea of deadlines and papyrus! We’ll see you soon.