I went for what should have been a modest 20 mile bike ride today, but it was hot for this neck of the woods (87F) and humid, and I'm not in shape this season yet. The course had a lot of hills -- not very steep ones but long and exposed to the hot noon sun.
Toward the end of the ride I found myself tooling up a long, sunny hill into a headwind, and I stop in a patch of shade to catch my breath and admire a fine, obviously architect-designed house. A Mercedes is parked out front.
I resume working my way uphill against the blast-furnace headwind, but a few minutes later the Mercedes roars up next to me, the window rolls down and the driver holds out a bottle of water to me. It is weeping with condensation.
"Hey! You need water?" He asks.
"No, filled up a couple miles back," I gasp.
"OK!" the guy says, and he turns around and drives back to his house.
This guy saw me climbing the hill on my bike on a hot day, grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator, ran out then chased me a quarter mile up the hill to offer it to me. And he was a rich guy with a fancy car, too.
And here's the thing: such acts of unprovoked kindness don't happen every day, but on the other hand they're really not all that rare either. I can name a dozen people I know who'd do something like that. But it doesn't fit many people's views of the way the world works. I'd hesitate to write a character doing something like that, for example. I might have it happen to him, and then maybe have him nonplussed.
A fictitious world where spontaneous kindness is commonplace doesn't seem credible. But in my experience it actually is fairly common. There's also horrible indifference too in the real world too, but I don't think there's actually more of it. Yet somehow indifference is a lot easier to believe.
It reminds me of the line from the psalm, probably my favorite line in the entire Bible: Surely goodness and loving-kindess will follow me all the days of my life. And so far, it has!
I wish I'd had the energy to show a little more appreciation for the effort this guy made, but I was knackered.
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