Where were you on December 2nd, 2000? I bet most people wouldn’t be able to answer that question. A day no different than a needle in a haystack of days. But you know, I know where I was. I know, because 10 year old Mandy kept a diary. And On December 2nd, in the year of 2000, I was learning one of my first lessons on being kind.
My teacher was my father.
You see, my father ran his own computer company for years. He’d fix peoples computers, install software, restore hard drives, debug viruses. Anyway, you get the picture. Whatever it is that computer business-y people do.
So, anyway. On this particular day, my dad took my brother and I to Quebec, which was a half hour drive from our family home in L’Anse au Loup. Mom wanted some groceries picked up, and one thing or another. And so my brother and I decided to tag along.
When we arrived in Quebec that day, we didn’t go immediately to the store, but rather we ended up at a small home. There wasn’t a lot to do. The first thing I noticed was there were hardly any toys to play with. And I wanted to leave.
“Dad when are we leaving! I want to go home. This is so boring,” are among the comments I am sure I made to him that day, as he worked tirelessly for at least an hour on this family’s computer.
It was told to me to be patient. I tried. But I wasn’t. I was bothered. Why did I have to waste my day here? Like, this 10 year old got places to be. My father told me, “just a few more minutes.”
Well, those minutes turned into hours. The family computer he was working on was, even at that time, as old as any computer I had ever seen. I was rotted. This was not what I had signed up for. There was literally nothing to do. Or that’s how I was feeling at 10.
When my father finally finished, the father of this family whose home I’d been at all day, asked, in front of me, what he owed my father for the work he had done. My dad said to him, “do you have 3 cans of coke?” The man wanted to pay my father, but my father refused. Just 3 cans of coke is all he wanted.
The man said he had Pepsi. And you know what, my father said, “sure, that’ll do.” And he gave one to my brother and I and kept one for himself.
I was rattled. My father had worked so hard all day, for what? 3 measly cans of Pepsi. Ridiculous. Unjust. I didn’t know the value of the labor of my dad’s hard work. But what I did know was approximately how much 3 cans of Pepsi cost. And I was sure he was taking a fair cut. But worse, I felt like I was taking a cut. My whole day. Ruined. For what? There was Pepsi and Coke at home, for God’s sake, did he not know that?
I remember getting in our family minivan with my brother and my dad. And as soon as the door shut behind me I asked my dad, inquiringly, why he did that. Why would he do that? We were there all day! Surely, our entire day was worth more than 3 cans of Pepsi.
And my dad, without missing a beat, turned to me and said that that family did not have much. That it was approaching Christmas. And that sometimes being kind is the most important thing that someone can do for someone else. And he had paid. He paid my dad with a can of Pepsi, for me, my brother, and for himself.
And then I reflected on that day. I thought about that family. I felt sad for myself for having acted so selfishly. I wasn’t a bad kid. But at that age I wasn’t able to see what my father saw. He saw a family that was struggling to get by. We weren’t rich, but we had what we needed. And this man wanted his family’s computer to work so his children could use it to do their school work.
And you know what? This memory has stuck with me for my entire life. It was one of the most important and valuable lessons that I have ever learned. That day, I learned what type of a man my father is, and I learned that it is our duty as human beings to be kind. If we can’t do anything else. Let us be kind.
I reflect on this story often. This is the standard that I have set as my own. To be selfless, and to be kind when and where possible.
I lifted out my dusted diary today because I wanted to find the date that this paradigm shift occurred. I knew that I had written it in. I knew because it struck a tender chord of the heart of the 10-year-old kid I use to be. It’s impact on my life has been immeasurable.
So, I’ll leave with ya’all a trademark saying of my father’s, “Kindness and Goodness not badness and evil.”
Below is the gift I made for my father this past Christmas! Love to my daddio! X