Random Acts of Kindness or How I Got Yelled at For Doing a Good Deed

I know you’ve heard the phrase “random acts of kindness” before and chances are you try to be kind to others throughout your day. But what happens when you go out of your way to help someone only to be berated later by friends and loved ones?

Here’s what happened:

I worked the night shift at the library the other night when a youngish woman (probably recently out of college) comes to the circulation desk. While she looks healthy and put together she is checking out armfuls of books on domestic violence. My colleagues and I give her a few plastic bags we have behind the desk because not only is she walking home, but it’s pouring out. After she leaves, we talk about how we hope those books weren’t for her and that she doesn’t have far to walk.

When I leave work after closing, I notice that same girl walking (I would say trudging but want your unbiased opinions at the end so I’m trying to tell the facts without my writer’s embellishments) along the sidewalk close to the library. I stopped, said I worked at the library and would she like a ride home. She was beyond grateful and when we finally reached her home, I realized it would have taken a long time for her to reach her abode not to mention the heavy bags of books AND it was pouring!

I thought I had done a good deed. Something I would have wanted someone to do for me. That is until I told my girlfriend, and later a friend at work, what had happened and I got the same response from both of them – WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??? Well, I was thinking I was being nice…. Apparently, they both were of the opinion that I should have never picked this woman up as “You have no idea who this woman is.” No, I didn’t, but I couldn’t not stop – the double negative totally fits here. Yes, I was running a risk, but I weighed those odds before I stopped the car.

My opinion is that while this may have been a risky move on my part, a feeling exacerbated by later comments by friends, it felt worse to me to let her walk at night carrying heavy bags of books through the pouring rain. And, I mean really, would I really want to risk ruining all those library books through water damage?

But I want to know what you think – would you have stopped?

  1. I’m not going to yell at you because I think you did the right thing. That said, I wouldn’t have stopped. I’m too much of a paranoid chicken. I would have thought about stopping, and I would have felt bad about not stopping, but I wouldn’t have actually stopped and given her a ride.

    • I think you are in the majority, Alissa! I’m paranoid about a lot of situations as a woman, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. It’s a hard call I think.

    • The same, Alissa. I’ve heard of people being kind and stopping, and next thing the benefactor is being held up or something worse. I’d feel a twinge of guilt for not stopping, but then get over it.

    • diana mack
    • November 17th, 2010

    if anything the girl shouldn’t have gotten in your car…..you totally did the right thing…were people just concerned that this girl had someone perpetuating the abuse and you could’ve gotten hurt when he came flying out of the house???

    • Diana, I do think that was part of it, yes. Fortunately, that did not happen. Unfortunately, I read too many mystery novels and spent the entire drive home looking in my rear view mirror to see if I was being tailed!

    • matt
    • November 18th, 2010

    I am glad to hear that you went out of your way to help somone else. It is confounding sometimes to hear people worry about what could or might have happened as a result, and then to insert it into conversation. Especially in an instance when it did not. From what I know, you are more than capable of exercising good judgment whether or not you are potentially putting yourself in harm’s way, or simply looking out for some library books. Plus there are dangerous animals/werewolves lurking about ’round your parts.

    I say good for you. There’s no reason to fear everything, or think you may be naive if you don’t.

    • Although I do feel women are trained to fear because of violence toward women, I feel like I did the right thing. It’s really rare I would pick someone up and tried to make a kind choice despite my fears. Thanks for your comment, Matt!

  2. I’m a pretty cautious person, but that being said, if I had actually noticed her, I probably would have stopped too. The chance of me noticing her were probably slimmer than the chances that something bad would happen to me.

    On the other hand, I’m one hundred percent positive that if it was a man instead, I would not have stopped under pretty much any circumstances. It’s maybe irrationally biased of me, but I feel much safer with picking up a random woman than a random man. I guess I just feel like it’s less likely that a woman is going to victimize me.

    And in this situation, it’s just as likely that she’s still in school and working on a project about domestic violence.

    • I agree with you, Crystal. I never would’ve stopped if it were a man instead of a woman, for me it’s just too risky!

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