Can kindness have a limit?

I truly believe that no matter your age, your gender, or your race; kindness is a gift every human has within them. When kindness is shared, with love and appreciation, it can be the game-changer to a brighter future for all.

With this in mind, I present this question to you: Why can the power of kindness still come second place to the colour of one’s skin?

Last week, a friend and I made our way to the grocery store to do what hundreds of other people were doing at the same time – shopping. I often buy small so my journey to the store is usually quite short.

This day we spent big and had a heap of items to check-out.

A lot of our fellow shoppers were 9 to 5 workers, doing a quick shop on their way home. Think long days. Some worse than others.

While at the checkout (you know, the one with the real human, and not a machine), I placed my items down, and just as I did, a woman decided the other queues were longer than mine, and jumped next in line. After a minute or two, I observed her face and she was not happy about waiting this long, but I could see she was one of those 9 to 5 workers who had a bad day….

For some reason she struck a chord with me. And as many AIME staff have done before, I decided I would use the last note in my wallet to contribute to her grocery bill. “Why would you?” asked the checkout attendant. I replied, “because I can” and passed the $20 note to her.

I walked away hoping it would put a smile on the lady’s face. Hoping, that of all things that had happened to her that day, this might give her a little hope.

Then the moment came. Her last item was scanned, and the $20 dollars was presented. And it did not go well; the gesture was denied. As the lady walked past me, she turned to me and said, “Sorry, but I don’t need help from black people”.

I froze, and looked back to the attendant who still held my note, waiting to give it back. I asked her to please add it to the following customers bill. Her response was no and she shoved the note into my hand.

This really hit me for a six.

How can someone be in this headspace and treat someone the way I was treated?

The fact it was a reaction to someone offering only kindness, is shocking. I have faced racism in many forms but with this particular scenario, it isn’t as often.

I feel sorry for people who react this way, who lug so much hate and anger. I truly hope that one day, it will be different for her.

Kindness is infectious, and works when it is around you. Though, I can’t assume that everyone I see and meet, has been infected with kindness as much as I have.

It sucks that someone’s day can end in such a way. For whatever reason. There are so many things that impact our headspace. For some it can be work, family, friends or just a random incident. Whatever it may be, it is exactly why I will continue to be just as kind as I was to the lady at the checkout, and every other person I am to come across.

I have a strong family who have been by my side. I have a strong group of friends who have seen me laugh, and seen me cry, and I have an organisation that continues to teach me to be focused and vulnerable all at the same time. I have food on my table and a roof over my head. I have nothing to be angry for. I am alive. I am not perfect. And I’m willing to grow.

When it comes to kindness, I believe you must walk the talk, even at your lowest. Someone around you, who may not be as strong, needs it more than you do. And truly, for me it feels a lot better when someone helps me smile instead of the other way around. It is what the world needs more of right now instead of the division we once were once driven by.

In saying that, for those in the Gungahlin/Canberra area, there is $20 bucks floating around in the wind somewhere outside the Marketplace. If you find it, please share it with love and with a random act of kindness. I tried to but had no luck. I hope you might.

Kindly, Darren

Program Manager at AIME Canberra & Magic Maker ✨