Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Make a difference in someone’s life

- By Terry Alburger

Valentine’s Day this year was one of those days. I got up extra early, wanting to make sure I had ample time to prepare for the day.

Being Valentine’s Day, I had a full schedule of events for which to prepare at work. Therefore, I needed to allot extra time that morning in order to spend lots of time wearing my puppy out with extra playtime. I had hoped that she would be worn out once I left for work.

You see, I was generous enough to share my cold with my husband, so he was not feeling up to the usual long play sessions outside during the course of the day. He works from home, and our pup is accustomed to lots of daily activity. But not that day. Try to explain that to a black lab.

No worries, I planned for it, we played hard, and she was good and tired when I left the house.

Have you ever noticed that when your day-today routine is interrupte­d, things do not quite go as smoothly as they should? Several things were different that morning and my autopilot obviously was on strike.

Upon arriving at work after my usual half-hour commute, I hopped out of the car, ready to face a very busy day, opened the back door of my car to remove my briefcase and… you guessed it. No briefcase. Which meant no computer. Muttering a few choice words under my breath, I hopped back in the car and headed back home. And there it was, my briefcase, waiting for me in my garage, just where I had inadverten­tly left it.

My 30-minute commute had turned into an hour and a half. I was a bit undone when I finally got to my office and was ready to hit the ground running to accomplish all I had to do. I was clearly in a silent chorus of “oh, woe is me!” But as I got to my office door, one of my co-workers arrived with a wonderful surprise — it was Valentine’s Day, and his longstandi­ng tradition was to buy an assortment of chocolate covered strawberri­es for all the ladies in the offices where I work.

There he stood, with this tray of delectable delights extended in my direction. He had no way of knowing how much this little gesture changed the course of my day. All I could think was, what a wonderful surprise and a generous gesture on a morning when that was just what the doctor ordered. He was the difference between my self-proclaimed pity party and my usual mindset of how wonderful life truly is.

It brought to mind the idea of paying it forward; the idea that, much as he improved the quality of my day, I had the capability to do that for others. We all have that capability. At most it takes a few minutes of your time to extend a friendly “hello, how are you doing?” to someone who looks like they might need someone to talk to.

Or to give a hug to someone you know is struggling. Or to open a door for someone whose hands are full. Or just to evoke a smile from someone who you know is going through a rough patch.

While I cannot say that I’m happy that I tripled my morning commute that day just by not paying attention, I will say that the experience made me appreciate the kind gesture all the more.I was disgruntle­d, I was distracted, and I was angry at myself. That all dissipated upon being the recipient of kindness. This man made a difference. You can make a difference, too.

You’ll never know what kind of impact your kind gesture may have. It might just be exactly what someone else needed at exactly the right moment. Be someone’s chocolate covered strawberry.

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