Random Acts of Kindness

Today was just one of those days that starts kicking you when you’re down before you even get out of bed. I’m sick with a cold. And, being in a foreign country where I am anything but fluent in the language and pretty broke, I can’t really get anything to help me to get better. So I spent the entire night coughing and woke up exhausted. I had a hard time getting out of bed. It was rainy and cold out, making it even harder.
When I finally did get out of bed, I found my kitchen I share with my 8 other roommates in absolute shambles with our cleaning lady who comes twice a week very unhappily trying to find the counter under a mound of dishes and wading through bags of trash on a filthy floor. I was embarrassed to say the least. And due to the language barrier, I couldn’t fully convey to her how sorry I was that she had to clean us.
Then I check my bank account. Down to 17 dollars American. That wasn’t right, I should have much more. I checked my online statement. Apparently I had been charged 2 overdraft fees totaling 175 American for a 6 dollar over draw. Had to call my mom to sort it out since it would cost me a ton to try to call the bank myself to sort it out. Have yet to hear back about it.
I then go to my only class of the day. My least favorite class. Italian. Now don’t get me wrong, I wish I was good at Italian. And I really do try to understand. But it’s like I was never meant to speak or understand another language, particularly Italian. Our midterms were given back. I did better than I usually do and my teacher congradulated me for the increase in my grade. B-. Now for me a B- is as good as a D. I’ve never been bad at school before or any subject to the point that if I studied and worked hard at it I couldn’t pull off a high B or low A. Then I had to sit through the 2 hours of a hell class where I continuously feel lost and confused and frustrated.
Finally it was over. I walk outside. It starts raining again as I walk to the tram to get back to my apartment. I reach for my umbrella. But today I’d brought my purse to class and not my backpack… which had my umbrella in the side pocket. So I’m standing there, in the cold rain, thinking “Could this day get any worse?” when a beautiful, well dressed older woman walks towards me. She says something in Italian which I don’t understand, smiles and puts half of her umbrella over my head. I turn to her with an obvious look of surprise on my face. Romans are usually very reserved, cold and stuck up people. Never really nice and definitely not concerned with others, let alone a young american woman. I smile and say “Gratzie”, probably the most sincere thank you I’ve said all day. She simply nods and smiles and looks towards the coming tram.

And just like that, my day got better. With this woman’s simple kind act for a stranger was the high point of my day. We’re taught as kids to be kind to each other, the golden rule of “treat others as we would like to be treated”. But it seems in a world where you’re always looking out for number one and trying to get ahead, the older we get, the more we forget about the golden rule. I was amazed at how much I appreciated such a small gesture and it made me realize that something so simple as holding an umbrella over someone else’s head in the rain can completely make someone’s day.

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