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A Kind Ottawa

February 17th, 2012 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal

This week is kindness week in Ottawa, and if I had kept up with my blog reading this week, I would have read many a post about performing random acts of kindness.

Being mindful of other people, not making things unnecessarily difficult for the people around you, these are things my daughter will learn. She already says excuse me and please, and she’s very good with her thank-yous. She thanks automatic doors when they open for her.

I want her to be the person that notices those around her and does things to brighten their day, or at least not make it more difficult.

The problem I’m having with talking about Kindness Week is that all I can think about is something that happened on my morning bus a week or two ago.

The bus was full, as it often is. Standing room only. I was one of the many without a seat. I was standing next to the first door and holding on through the starts and stops. We reached one stop and an elderly gentleman got on. I knew immediately that he was not steady on his feet. He looked as though he might have Parkinson’s or some other issue that made him shake as he walked. He had a cane.

I stood in place, and watched this man and waited for one of the healthy looking young women in the priority seating to stand up give him a seat.

And nothing happened.

No one moved.

The driver turned around and shouted back “CAN SOMEONE GIVE THE MAN A SEAT, PLEASE!”

I wish I were surprised that everyone had waited for someone else to give up their seat for the comfort of this man, but I’m not. I’ve seen it before. And so I’m having a little difficulty with Kindness Week.

But I also heard a story from Joe this week. He was going into a grocery store and someone had invented a parking spot, as Ottawans seem to do quite often. And then someone else had parked in another non spot next to the invented spot.

Joe watched as a man shouted out to point out to the driver that this second car was blocking access to the handicap spot. The driver responded that he would only be a minute, and the second man responded telling him that he was either going to move his car or the police would be called.

Someone being kind to a person who isn’t even present, taking the time to speak out. That is what kindness is.

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