I will warn you right now. I'm in rare form today.
It all started bright and early this morning (well, it was early, but due to the monsoon season we're in right now, I can't really say it was bright) as I drove around the University of Arkansas campus hunting for a parking spot. I just needed to run a book into a building to a friend, but every empty spot was for permit holders only.
So, I did exactly what I would have done 17 years ago when I moved to Fayetteville as a grad student ... I snagged a permit spot and prayed HARD that I would not get a ticket or a ride on the back of a tow truck during the three minutes that it would take me to run my quick errand.
A few short minutes later, I approached my vehicle to see what looked like Cro-Magnon man standing near my truck punching buttons on his ticket machine.
"Excuse me," I began in disbelief. "Are you writing me a ticket?"
"If this is your vehicle, then yes, I am," Cro-Magnon man replied, without expression.
"Sir!" I protested. "I was in that building for just a couple of minutes, and there are PLENTY of empty spaces in this lot! PLEASE don't write me a ticket!"
"The rules are the rules," C-M man replied slowly, staring at me from under dark, heavy eyebrows, his flattened affect giving me the chills.
The drama queen in me switched into performance mode, and I looked him square in the eyes and asked, "Have you people NO compassion or mercy???"
"Compassion and mercy," he repeated back to me, again, with no trace of expression. (I'm starting to wonder at this point if he is on drugs.)
"Do you even KNOW what COMPASSION and MERCY are?" I pleaded with him in my best schoolteacher/perturbed mom voice. "I AM BEGGING YOU. PLEASE. DO. NOT. PUT. A. TICKET. ON. MY. TRUCK."
He looked stunned for a second as if no one had ever dared to speak to him like that. I myself was a little stunned that I had the nerve to even TRY to take on one of the Parking Nazis (those of you who are familiar with the UofA will know EXACTLY what I mean).
A brief silence followed.
And then, the words that I have been rolling around in my mind the rest of the morning: "Have a nice day, ma'am."
I've been celebrating this unexpected act of kindness the rest of the day by passing the generosity along to others:
* In a long line of traffic, I stopped to let TWO cars turn in front of me.
* I cancelled a quiz my tenth-grade students were supposed to take today.
* I gave my little guy an extra spoonful of cinnamon applesauce at lunch.
* After the elevator doors were nearly closed, I pushed the "open" button, because I thought I spotted someone rushing toward the elevator. The woman and her son who got on were in a big hurry and very glad I waited.
And there are still lots of hours left in the day to commit all manner of random acts of kindness ...