It’s The Little Things

It started at a stoplight.

No, not my latest book (though…there IS a car involved in Ruarc and Aine’s first meeting ;D) No, I’m talking about the idea for this blog.

Several weeks ago, sagging against the post-holiday stress, I sat in my car waiting for the light to change. It was a cold, rainy, rainy day. I noticed a young family standing at the uncovered bus stop, glad to know they had coats and hats and their little 3 year old guy was happy and dancing around his Dad who kept a good hand on his son’s parka…traffic, yanno.

Then the Mom was motioned over to the car in front of me. She seemed to exchange words. I thought “Someone wants directions” and…sadly…”Hope they don’t have a gun” (I’m a neurotic writer…we go there sometimes.) Instead, she came away with an umbrella.

A Random Act of

A small thing  but it meant the world to that drenched young family. I’ve been the recipient of a few Acts..someone paid for my McD’s Diet Coke in the drive thru, a surprise card things like that. I much prefer to be on the other end. Here are some things I like to do:

* Thank someone for doing a good job. Yes, we all ( I hope) thank police officers, firemen and the military for what they do but what about the little guys, the “unnoticed” among us. For instance, I will occasionally tell one of the housekeepers at the hospital they do a good job, I thank them for what they have to deal with (patients CAN be pigs…as can nurses). On the surface the tasks seem mundane but would YOU want to be cared for in  dirty environment?


*Compliment a cashier or salesperson on their clothes, their smiles.

*Leave change in the vending machine or if you drop a dime leave it…some lucky kid might come along and be thrilled he “found money”

*Hold open a door, help somebody carry things, take a lonely person to lunch.

*Put the grocery cart back in the collection rack. Some senior Kroger employee will thank you esp. in bad weather.

*Volunteer at an animal shelter. If you’re not a cat person….I’ll love ya anyway…but shelters need people to walk the dogs several times a day. The kitties need socialization. They need help running adoption fairs. All sorts of things. And the best is…adopt a shelter pet

I could go on and on but now I want to hear from you. What are some of the “little things” you do/have done? What suggestions do you have for building a better world one step at a time?


Posted in , ,



  • Jane says:

    Hello Joanie,
    I always put the carts away. I hate when people leave them in the middle in the lot or in front of the exit. I haven’t experience the pay it forward thing yet, but I do hold the doors open for others and give up my seat on the bus or subway for an pregnant or elderly person.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Good morning Jane! Yes, offering someone who is challenged physically a chance to take it easy…best ever!

      I allowed the kitties to lay in my lap this morning…oh, wait! That might have been an Act of Kindness to ME 😀

  • Deanna says:

    What a lovely post. I’m big on random acts of kindness and it just makes me happy to be able to pay someone a compliment. I’ve been taught growing up by my mother to not say anything if I don’t have anything nice to say, so I always look for something nice to say. There’s a checkout lady at our local Coles and she looks just like a young version of a lovely lady who leads worship at our church. It always makes me smile when this lady is at the checkout and I make it a point to go to her lane to have her check me out. Both the hubs and I always tell her how much we like having her check us out because she reminds us of someone very special. She always smiles at that. 🙂

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Aren’t those return smiles even brighter, Deanna?

      I especially like telling the young teenagers at the McD’s drive through that…you never know if they are struggling with self-esteem issues or not.

      Years ago, a little girl came to my door on Halloween dressed like a princess. I told her “You’re beautiful” That little bit ran from my door shouting “Mom! She said I was beautiful!”

  • Amy Conley says:

    About a year ago I was driving to Va and I didn’t have cash and they do not take cards. The people behind my paid my fee. So on my trip home I paid for the car behind me .
    I always return my carts, say hello to people walking into a store the same time I’m walking in.

    • Deanna says:

      Oh and BTW, the hubs is very OCD about returning shopping trolleys. He would even sometimes return other people’s trolleys that have been left lying around.

      • Amy Conley says:

        NP Deanna. I’m like your husband, especially when it’s raining, to grab as many carts as I can and get them in the store..

    • Deanna says:

      Oops! Sorry, meant for that to be another post but I don’t know what happened there.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      How nice Amy,

      I can’t wait till my budget loosens up and I can start doing that…right now? I’m looking for those stray dimes ;D

  • Shannon says:

    Holding door, especially an elevator door, is something I appreciate.

    This year at Christmas I made a bunch of cookies and gave not just to friends but also to the gang at my local coffee shop. They let me read there for hours at a time.

    I went into an auto repair shop when my tire pressure had gone done because of cold weather. “There’s something I could do but I don’t want to do, and I’ll pay you for it.” And they did it for free!

    And there’s a guy at the movie theater who keeps track of J for us movie ladies. If she goes into the wrong theater in the multiplex after going to the restroom, he tells us where she’s gone, or he has started helping her get back to the right one.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Awww Shannon….I’ve had a few do a “no charge” for me…like at my vet when I had to take The Monkey Cat back for ear checks.

      And what a kind theatre fellow….

  • Mozette says:

    It’s certainly the little things in life that make everything all the more the better. 😀

    Recently I came home from the coast and found my garden overgrown – due to the Summer rains. So, after cleaning up the backyard, I looked at my two tall Small Leaf Jades in the front garden and trimmed them up in about an hour; all the while it was raining… not too heavily, but it was nicely cooling me off.

    After I finished trimming, I collected the bits and found a few pieces that would be great to shove into a pot and grow. Well, I have about 4 of these lovely things growing in my backyard already in pots… so I went over to one of my neighbours and left the trimmings on their table in their car port; knowing they were looking for something to grow in their front garden (as we had spoken about it that afternoon). That night, after putting out the rubbish, I walked over and asked if she minded while she was having a smoke… she grinned saying she knew it must have been me because she saw the trees were looking good outside my place. 😀

    Other than that, I’ve held doors open for other people behind me, helped pay for people’s bus fare (when the fare went up by 20c or 50c or so), helped elderly people with their groceries into their cars in the local shopping centre when they are clearly struggling (and nobody will walk up and help them).

    I also have been volunteering at the Logan Art Gallery for 16 years… I do look forward to my 20 years there… it’ll be great to receive my certificate for that. 😀

    I also love to give new neighbours I like plants so they can start their own gardens… I’ve yet to do this with my current neighbours, but I will soon as I have a plant I want to give them, but I have to repot it once the weather dries up a little. And they’re looking into fixing up their garden and making a lizard den for some new reptiles soon. 😀

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Ok, you lost me at “lizard den” shiver…

      But…my back door neighbors leave tomatoes on my deck each summer. SO appreciated so I know yours love getting trimmings….

      and lizards? shiver

      • Mozette says:

        yeah… Lizard Dens. When we decide to have lizards as pets, we have to build dens for them, areas where they can live outside and be happy while in captivity… we also must have permits to keep anything that’s native to our country kept in our backyard in captivity. My neighbours who breed snakes – until recently when they sold the breeding couple – have been looking around for an albino python! I can’t wait to meet their new member of the family… yeah, I like snakes, they’re very cool; and seeing I have low blood pressure, they like me too, because I don’t freak out as much as other people. When I start to, all I do is start to sweat a lot.

        But I’d be more than happy to help my neighbours with plants with their garden for their Blue Tongue Lizards… such cuties, those lizards are. 😀

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    I pay for people’s drive through orders once in awhile. Love sending “I care” packages in the mail to others. I put in candy treats, a book, some lotion, coffee, whatever I think the person will like. Sometimes it’s homemade baked goods. Support a child overseas. This year I had a friend who promised to somehow “bless” five FB friends this year. At Christmas I got a card with a $5 Bill in it and she told me I was one of her random picks. She told me to go get a Starbucks or a hamburger or something on her. That gift meant more to me than anything else because it was unexpected and I knew it truly came from the heart. It also held special meaning because she’s the daughter of one of my best friends who passed away from cancer two years ago. I was so touched.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Debbie, that is really special.

      Back in 2004 I was involved for a short time with SOS…sending care pkg to service members in Iraq. LOVED how those soldiers appreciated the smallest of things. I sent homemade oatmeal cookies (they travel well) and the soldier told me “If I’d been by myself when I opened it, I would have cried” Sniff

  • Deb says:

    Lovely post today, Joanie. I think a lot of us do little things without thinking about them. I do have a “young” neighbor….she’s 94, but she has more energy than me!….that I like to visit with every so often. She’s gone more than she is home, so not always easy to do so. I had left-over cookies from my Grandparent Tea, so took her a small plate of them along with a nutcup. We sat and chatted for well over an hour.
    I like to put shopping carts back in their place.
    The best random gift I got this year was from my sister. She knows money is really tight and she sent me a gc to the local KwikStar, saying that it was a fundraiser at their church and she thought we could use it. It has been great for bread and milk needs.
    I am hoping to be better about small kindnesses to others this year.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      What a thoughtful sister! Here Deb…CATCH…I just threw you a dime from Kentucky. ( You can throw me a couple of slices of bread…for my bologna diet ) 😀 Here’s to great things in the new year, big and small

  • Aw Joanie, now you’ve got me thinking. Will have to compliment the cashier when I go to the store today.

    1. Always smile and say thank you to cashiers and never be on the cell phone while they “wait” on me.

    2. I tend to be asked where things are in groceries. Sigh. Or asked “How do you cook this?” Sigh. I have been known to help someone find all the ingredients and give instructions, to my kids’ dismay! But I figure it might help someone who has no clue how to cook get it right. 🙂

    Thank you. It’s such an easy word to say. I thank everyone. I used to thank my co-workers. Now I just make sure I say it often to the Jazzman. It’s so nice to hear it. It’s just as nice to say it!

    Thank you, Joanie!

  • EC Spurlock says:

    As the mom of a cart attendant, thank you to all the folks out there who put the shopping carts in the cart corrals or bring them back to the store – it makes my son’s job so much easier! People don’t realize what a hard and physical job it is, especially in bad weather and with cars whizzing around the lot (he hates hybrids because he can’t hear them coming.) And as a customer service person, thanks to all those who are patient and gracious on the phones. I try to be courteous and upbeat to my customers and polite and patient with service people I may be on the phone with, since I have been in their shoes. And I’m grateful to all the folks who have held doors and assisted my husband when he was in a wheelchair and continue to assist him with doors, stairs etc now that he’s getting around with a cane. You have no idea how invisible you become when you are handicapped, and just to be acknowledged is a big deal.

    I don’t have the means to do much for others, but when the store I worked for closed, I bought out their stock of angel coins and always have a few with me. If I meet a cashier, waitress etc who seems to be having a hard time, I will put one in the tip or change or just hand it to her and say I’ll pray for her. It always gives them a smile and a little hope.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      An angel coin. SO sweet EC!

      I hear you about becoming invisible. In 2004 I had foot surgery and was no weight bearing for a few weeks. My friend took me to the mall in a wheelchair to “get out”. I had to use the restroom, so she maneuvered me to the handicap stall where I “hopped” in 😀 But a lady there talked ABOUT me TO my friend as if I were invisible.

      But the cool thin? I communicated great with all the babies in strollers 😀

  • catslady says:

    I think most of us probably do those things without thinking twice about it. I always say thank you and please and open doors – the common courtesies and I try never to be rude to anyone. I do volunteer work and help ferals/strays. We’ve gotten to inviting our uncle over for sunday dinners because his wife tends to do a lot without him. And I lend and give books – my favorite thing to do.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Catslady, I knew you were a kindred spirit the first time I saw your moniker 😀

      I love volunteering at the humane society. Socializing the kitties goes a long way in them finding a happy home. And it does ME a lot of good too!

  • Lovely post Joanie –

    I ALWAYS put my grocery cart away. I hate it when people leave them between cars, ready to roll into the empty spaces and deny someone a parking space.

    I try to pay unexpected compliments to absolute strangers. 🙂 I know…silly. But it makes us both feel good, and I hope encourages kindness.

    If the snow is bad and someone is stuck in our court, I grab a shovel and try to help out.

    I always turn to the local animal shelter for pets. We’ve adopted one dog and two cats from there. However, the visits tend to break my heart, so many animals need loving homes.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      It is hard to leave sometimes Donna….my friends thought I’d fill my pockets with kittens the first time.

      But knowing I showed them love made it easier…

  • Helen says:


    I agree we all need to be as thoughtful as we can and saying thank you is on of the easiest things and saying please and yes I always return my trolleys and open doors for people help them carry things and I try to smile 🙂

    Have Fun

  • Cassondra says:

    Joanie, this is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I love this blog.

    I love that you witnessed that umbrella exchange. And I love that you perform these little acts.

    I try to do that too, though I’m afraid some days I go through with blinders. I try to smile and make the grocery check out person laugh, and always ALWAYS say thank you to the people in the “self-check” lanes at Kroger. Those are the best of the cashiers–they have to watch all those lanes at the same time, and they always help, no matter what dumb thing I do.

    If I see someone who looks down, I try to find something about them to compliment. Just, “what a great coat,” or “That outfit is gorgeous” or “Love the color of your hair!” “Beautiful bracelet” or something–I can almost always find something–to give them even a small lift. I don’t do that as often as I’d like though, so many times caught up in my own world.

    I remember being in line behind somebody and it came up what our jobs were. I asked what he did. He said, “I’m a trash collector–not a very glamorous job.” I was, that one time, gifted with a quick enough tongue to say, “It’s one of the most important jobs in the world. What would the rest of us do without you?” He just stopped and stared. Then he smiled and nodded and said, “thanks. You get it.”

    But I’m not usually that on top of things.

    I love the “leave the dime on the ground,” thing. I ESPECIALLY LOVE the “pay for the person’s meal behind you at the drive through” What a fantastic idea! I don’t know how I could make it work, but I’d love to try it.

    • Joan Kayse says:

      Yes Cassondra I think if we all take a moment to look around we’ll see these small things.

      I had a $5 off coupon on a $50 order at Kroger around Christmas. I RARELY buy that much in groceries and since I couldn’t do Dare to Care or Angel Tree I thought “I’ll find somebody at Kroger who looks like they could use a $5 coupon” (Swear, I don’t know how families do it). Gave it to a very surprised woman.

      Then checked out and my groceries were $60 LOL But yanno…..$5 off would not have felt near as good as lessening someone else’s burden

  • Cassondra says:

    OMGOSH, next time I find a sale on small collapsible umbrellas, I’m going to buy a bunch to keep in the car. Then I can carry an extra into Kroger when it’s raining and give it to somebody who needs it.

    Joanie, this blog was a gift from God. Thank you for posting it!

  • This is such a wonderful post, Joan! What a blessing to hear about the umbrella in the rain story.

    I never really thought about it being a big deal, but apparently it is. I always tell my bakery crew members “Thank you.” at the end of their shift, or if I leave before they do I tell them when I leave. I do it because I am grateful, but also because I truly believe it is important for people to know what they do is important. I have heard several times of people wanting to transfer into my department because “The Boss Lady always tells her people thank you.” It costs me nothing and it lets my crew know I appreciate them.

    All of my pets are rescues. My most recent is Miss Fuzzy Butt who is now enjoying the dog house and various amenities I set up under the porch.