Every Sunday, as part of our weekly routine of chores, Erica (my fiancée) and I go to the same corner laundromat in our neighborhood.
There are washing machines in our building (which we use), and dryers as well, but we found that the dryers didn’t do a great job with our clothes, so to dry our wet laundry, we take it to the laundromat. I know, I know, sounds a bit inefficient (and it surely is), but it’s what we do and it works for us.
Thanks to calico_13 for the great picture!
Just as we’re there every Sunday afternoon, so too is the laundromat attendant. Until reflecting on my recent post, Talk to the Janitor, my interactions with the attendant were largely superficial…just quick exchanges of pleasantries, chatting about the weather, etc. As with the janitor (Julian), I soon realized that it was a sad state of affairs to interact with someone on a weekly basis, for several years, and to not know much about them (including their name). So I decided to address that depressing fact…
I finally/formally introduced myself to the attendant, her name is Maria, and immediately felt much better. Our interactions haven’t changed much since, but I feel better knowing that I’ve at least made a more personal connection.
With the holidays approaching a few weeks back, Erica and I thought it might be nice to give Maria a card. Beyond being friendly to us, she doesn’t do anything particularly special for us, we wash and fold our own clothes; however, we thought she might enjoy receiving a small token of appreciation. So we wrote a holiday card to Maria and included a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts as a quick thank you. This small expense proved to provide more value/enjoyment per dollar than most other purchases I’ve made in quite a while.
What About the Empanadas?
Maria must not get many holiday cards from customers, because she seemed a bit surprised (and very appreciative) when we gave it to her before Christmas.
When we next saw Maria, upon returning to our neighborhood after New Years, and returning to our normal weekend routine of chores, she quickly expressed her gratitude for the card and then asked for my phone number, smiling and saying that she had an idea for a surprise for me and Erica.
Her ‘surprise’ was that, as a thank you for our holiday card/gift, and as her own holiday gift to us, she wanted to make us empanadas. I gave her my phone number and we planned a time for me to visit her apartment to pick up the empanadas later in the week.
Friday night came, and I received a call from Maria, saying that she had just finished the empanadas…they were still warm and were ready to be picked up!
After briefly chatting on the phone, I headed over to her building. She greeted me downstairs and welcomed me to her apartment after a short trip in the elevator.
Needless to say that, after an afternoon of making empanadas, her place smelled great!
Thanks to mabel flores for the picture!
She introduced me to her husband and we all chatted for a bit. She described the empanada recipe (tuna, onions, garlic, etc.), explained that they’re called pasteles in her native language (Cape Verdean). We talked about her week (it had been her birthday on Tuesday) and I told her a bit more about myself (how Erica and I are getting married this summer, what we do for work). The conversation didn’t last long and I still have a lot to learn about Maria (questions about her/her family, when she came to America), but it was great to chat with her and to make a more personal connection.
Maria certainly didn’t have to make me and Erica those pasteles, we certainly weren’t expecting anything in return for our card, but our random act of kindness brought about another…to both of our delights.
The pasteles were delicious and I’ll think of them fondly for years to come, as a reminder of the importance, value and fun that can come from expressing and cultivating gratitude in our lives through random acts of kindness…
Your thoughts? Do you have any stories to share about recent random acts of kindness?
I welcome and look forward to your comments!