Doing the right thing for the wrong reason …
People sometimes frown upon doing a good deed for the wrong reason. Generally I agree, particularly if you relish some sort of personal gain for your kindness. But, I believe that a few rules ought to have a clear exception, and this is one of them.
When I was in middle school, there was a kid I’ll call Michael who got teased a lot. But by today’s standards, it would be a serious case of bullying. From what I could tell, it wasn’t anything too serious. But, when you’re the one who is the brunt of the unkind treatment, it is very serious. So, I would sometimes sit with Michael during lunch, ask him about his day, and I would even partner with him in gym or on class assignments sometimes. He seemed appreciative.
Here’s where the wrong reason comes in. I went out of my way to be nice to him because I felt bad for how the other kids treated him. He wasn’t one of my school chums, but I didn’t like seeing him go through that. I always root for the underdog. It’s pretty pathetic that bullies prey on people the way they do. Nobody really knows how bullies decide who to pick on, but Michael was one who got it almost daily. That’s why I made a little extra effort to show him some kindness.
Fast forward to today — well not literally today but to the present time frame, I ran into Michael at the DMV when I was renewing my driver’s license. He worked there and recognized my name. I hadn’t thought of him since middle school. If someone had asked me the name of that kid who got bullied who I was nice to, I wouldn’t have remembered. But he sure remembered me. He looked at my name and asked if I had attended Andrew Jackson Middle School in Suitland, Maryland (At the time, it was called Andrew Jackson Junior High School. The name changed at some point.). I confirmed that I went there, and he reminded me who he was, and he thanked me for being nice to him and even told me how I had saved his life. He had contemplated suicide several times, but my thoughtfulness helped him to feel a little better and helped him to get through the school day.
Listen, I had no idea. He didn’t talk much back then. So, he never articulated to me his suicidal thoughts. He never mentioned to anybody else either that I’m aware of. That day in the DMV, he told me all about it, and listening to his story nearly brought tears to my eyes. He told me every time he was about to hurt himself, he’d remember how kind I was to him and wouldn’t do it. Yes, I was only kind because I felt sorry for him, and usually that’s not a reason to be kind; however, that saved Michael’s life, stopping him from killing himself. He even got married, has two children, and is now living happily ever after.
You never know what impact you’ll have on someone’s life. Like I always say (mostly to myself, but I say it all the time): “Never miss an opportunity to be somebody’s blessing.”