Gaming – RAKS for the holiday season

Pretend you hear scary music while I tell this story. It might make it more interesting. Back when I was in high school, my sister and a friend borrowed the family car to go shopping in a town an hour away. We were heading home when the car broke down. We were miles from the nearest town and even farther from home. Night was coming and cell phones hadn’t been invented yet.

There was only one thing to do; wait for someone to stop. We hadn’t waited long when someone did. A refrigerated meat delivery truck pulled up and two big, beefy men got out. Actually, I don’t remember if they were beefy. I just couldn’t resist saying that since they were driving a meat truck.

They looked under the hood, declared the problem beyond them, and offered us a ride to the nearest telephone. I hear the collective gasp from mothers everywhere, but my sister and I climbed into a delivery truck with two men we’d never met and left our friend with the car. This probably sounds more like a Halloween column than one meant to kick off the holiday season. But the fact that I’m writing it at all should be some indication of how things turned out.

The deliverymen took us to the town we’d just left to call my dad. Then they drove us back to our car so we could wait for him. They said goodbye and we never heard from them again. Angels in a meat truck.

I probably wouldn’t get into a delivery truck with strangers today. It’s a different time and I have a cell phone. But that’s not what I’m thinking about now. I’m thinking about how kind it was of those men to add an hour to their trip to help us. It was a huge Random Act of Kindness or RAK, not to be confused with a RAKE, though if you show up on my front lawn with one of those, that would be a Random Act of Kindness too – -and equally appreciated.

A few months ago, I was sitting at a restaurant with three friends discussing the television show, The Big Bang Theory. A woman at the next table chimed in and we all chatted about the show. She finished her breakfast and left, and moments later the waitress came by to tell us the woman had paid for our meals. A genuine RAK performed for no other reason than that we all get a big bang out of the same TV show.

Another driver stopped his car to let me back out of my parking space. I waved my thanks and, as I drove away, I heard a honk. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw that, while he’d been stopped for me, someone had backed into his car. I felt terrible, but probably not as bad as he felt.

Generally, though, RAKs beget RAKs. I held the door for someone today, and later someone else let me cut in line at the grocery store because I had fewer items. At least I hope that’s what they intended, because I did cut in line.

Twice I’ve returned wallets I found and twice I’ve had my purse returned safely to customer service after I left it in the grocery cart. Thank goodness for honest people, because I never learn.

Lest you think I’m overcome with holiday spirit, I do realize there are plenty of Random Acts of Meanness (RAM) too. I wouldn’t wish eternal damnation on anyone, but I hope there are dope slaps in heaven for a few people. Like that bunch I saw tossing trash out their car window the other day. Or whoever stole my bike. Or the guy who shot my windshield out a few years back. (At least I wasn’t in the car.)

If I’ve ever committed a RAM myself, I won’t admit it here. I’m more likely to commit Random Acts of Dumbness anyway, and I admit to plenty of those in this column. We can all avoid being mean, though it’s harder to avoid being dumb. But during the holiday season, we celebrate the RAKs we enjoy year round and resolve to perform more of them ourselves. Bring your RAKE.

(Contact drosby@rushmore.com or see www.dorothyrosby.com)

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