The Daily Illini

Kindness is key

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Kindness is key

By Molly Zupan, Special Sections Editor

A few weeks ago, I was at a restaurant with my parents, sister and her boyfriend. While we were eating, a woman walked by and dropped something on the floor. She kept walking, unaware of what she had left behind.

I got up, picked up her belonging, and brought it over to her table. I tapped her on the shoulder, and said, “Excuse me, you dropped this while you were walking.” Without even looking at me, she snatched the item from my hand and did not say a word.

I was shocked, and actually a little hurt. I immediately walked away and saw the expression on my sister’s face that read, “What the hell just happened?” I sat back down and my sister said, “I can’t believe that lady just did that.”

Although this rude incident was fairly minuscule, and my first and only interaction with this woman, I still felt really upset. I was confused and a bit mad at myself for acting so maturely. I wanted to grab what she had dropped and throw it in the trash.

But I didn’t.

I sat down with my family and my parents said things like, “You did the right thing,” “Don’t let that bother you,” and “She might’ve just been preoccupied and didn’t realize what she had done.”

I took all of this into consideration. There are times when I’m a bit stressed and I’m not fully attentive to my surroundings. But then I really thought about it and I realized I consistently think about how my actions impact the people around me.

At this point, I was so pissed. She could have at least said “thank you,” or smiled at me or something. I did her a favor and she gave me nothing.

She was a stranger at the beginning of our interaction and she remained a stranger at the end of it.

This ridiculously rude interaction has been on my mind for days and I understand why. I was raised to treat everyone with kindness and to be aware of the feelings of others. Believe me, I’m not perfect at all, but I do my absolute best to make sure kindness is a quality people see in me through my actions and words.

This is something that I have carried with me for as long as I can remember and I brought it with me to college. I have been a student at the University for two years and I have encountered so many incidents similar to the one I described above, but the interactions are typically pleasant.

If I bump into someone on Green Street I say, “Sorry.” If someone needs a pencil in class, I offer my uncanny collection of Ticonderogas. And if someone nearby drops something, I pick it up and kindly hand it to them and they say, “Thank you.”

During your years on this campus, be kind to everyone around you. Life can be absolutely crazy and stressful and everything in between, but that is no excuse to treat others poorly.

Embrace the University, the other students around you, this opportunity to learn, live and love, and carry kindness with you along the way.

Molly is a junior in FAA.

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