Random Acts of Kindness

About 15 years ago, during a trip to Florida on an oppressively hot August day, I was dispatched to the local super market to get an ingredient for dinner. As I approached the entrance an older gentleman was heading toward his car. He was using his shopping cart more like a walker then a transporter of grocery items.

I noticed his car had a Purple Heart license plates I walked over to him and said, “Thank your for your sacrifice and service.” He literally started to cry, commenting that he had the plates for about 10 years and I was the first one ever to comment on them. In the ensuing conversation he disclosed he was wounded during the invasion of Guadalcanal and was also awarded the Bronze Star.

Starting on that eventful day I approached every veteran I could identify by sticking out my hand and saying, “Thanks for your service.” In the ensuing years everyone recipient would say, “thank you,” and frequently a nice conversation would follow.

When Viet Nam vets returned home they were treated with disdain. They didn’t dare wear their uniforms in public because people would curse at them and frequently they were spit upon.

I am of the opinion that irrespective of our personal opinions of the military and wars we owe a debt of thanks to those who severed, especially those who put their lives on the line. If I can identify a Viet Nam veteran I shake their hand and say, “Welcome home and thank you for your service.”

What is a Random Act of Kindness?

A random act of kindness is simply a deed we do to give pleasure to someone else with no expectation of anything in return. Thanking a vet is just one example, however, the kindness universe is infinite.

We humans tend to complain frequently and give accolades rarely. Have you ever complained to the manager of a restaurant that the meat was overcooked and the server was impolite? Thinking positively rather than negatively the comment could be, both your food and service was great.

The pervasiveness of a lack of positive feedback was driven home during my master’s graduation at Monmouth University. The then New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean was the keynote speaker. He started his presentation with the question, “How many of you know this is the year of the teacher?” Many people, especially students, raised there hand. He then asked, “For everyone, not just graduates, how many of you have had a teacher who made a meaningful impact or change in your life?” Almost everyone raised their hand. Next question from Governor Kean was, ‘How many of you ever took the time to thank teachers who had a meaningful impact on your life?” Almost no one raised their hand.

There is an important point here, just because someone is doing an outstanding job doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a pat on the back.

What Does This Have to do with Ham Radio?

Nothing and everything. Courtesy doesn’t have starting and ending boundaries. Have you ever thanked anyone who helped you with a difficult point when you were preparing for you license? How about a speaker of at a meeting? Almost everyone applauds the speaker but there is nothing like going up to the speaker and saying, “Great presentation, I learned a lot.” How about thanking the outgoing officers of your club, the publisher of your club’s newsletter or the person who makes the snacks at meetings?

My father’s mantra was, “The measure of a person is how they interact with someone who can do nothing for them in return. I think he was talking about random acts of kindness.

One last thought. Place a phone call to a couple of your ham radio friends and simply tell them, “Since I’ve met you I am enjoying ham radio much more which carries over to the quality of my life.”

Thanking or complementing someone will make you happy and possibly make the recipient’s day. It’s a win-win deal.

Urb LeJeune, W1UL, is the creator of Ham-Cram, a ham radio test preparation website. He writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Random Acts of Kindness”

  • Bob AC5BG:

    Well said and VERY true.
    Keep spreading the kindness and Thanks for the Ham-Cram site. It’s a great resource for getting your ticket.

  • Lewis J. Malgieri ,W2PDY:

    This Act Of Kindness was a Great gesture! I am one of those Viet Nam Combat Vets that experienced much scorn and rejection! God Bless America!
    Lew W2PDY (62 years of Ham Radio)

  • Norm Davis WB4BKO:

    Good article. As the old adage suggests:
    One gets further with sugar than vinegar.
    One thing I try to do when someone is providing a service for me is to inject a little humor into the situation. Invariablyit makes that person’s day a little better and helos me feel better too.
    You are on the right track.

  • Colin GM4JPZ/N6OET:

    Urb, I read and enjoyed what you wrote and was about to carry on my evening’s reading of various websites, but then I thought better of it. It would mean I had not internalised what you so eloquently said if I did not thank you for this important reminder to us all. I guess it’s Ham Spirit you’re reminding us of as radio amateurs, and as everyday citizens it’s simply human decency we need to remember as we go about our lives.
    Thanks again and 73,
    Colin GM4JPZ

  • M0XLT:


    Politeness, Respect and Courtesy are one of life’s richest gifts that we have in order to enrich ourselves and others. Keep spreading the word.

    Kevin M0XLT

  • Ken N8CGY:

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more. You wrote a great article and it stirs me to do better in this area.

    73 Ken N8CGY

  • John G0WXU:

    Urb.That politeness and respect that you have given to the Vietnam vets and others is commendable to you. I was disgusted to find out how they were treated on returning home. I got back to the U.K from the Far East before the end of the Viet conflict and then back to BAOR before finishing my time in the forces. I would have hated coming home from a combat zone to inhospitable treatment from my old neighbors etc. You did a great job by showing those guys that someone cared for the service they had given to their country. 73 de John – G0WXU.

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