The guy ahead of us looked kind of scary. His shaved head and tattoos could have been the typical uniform of the heavy metal fan, but there was a hard look about him that made my internal caution light go off. I wasn't necessarily concerned, but it never hurts to be aware of who is around you and what is happening. It helps to ease some of my anxiety, anyway.
Zane and I were doing some grocery shopping, and the place was packed. I was a bit frazzled. Shopping with my son is a never ending battle of "I want that!" and "No", along with him trying to sneak items in the cart along the way. Happy to be close to the end of this particular trip, I was focused on getting the groceries onto the conveyor belt. I noticed the guy ahead of us, but not much else. He was finishing up his transaction; he reached into his front pocket for his cash. I turned away to reach for a bulky item underneath the cart, barely registering the sound of coins bouncing off of the concrete floor.
Zane sprang into action. He ran over, dropped to his knees and started hunting down all of the coins that the man had dropped. When he had gathered up all of the change, my son stood up and held his hand out to give the coins back. That's when this intimidating man told Zane to keep the coins, thank you, and handed him three dollars. Zane ran back to me clutching his newfound wealth, very excited. As I made sure my son said thank you, I realized something.
My son held no preconceived notions about the human being in front of him. He saw a person who needed help, and he helped him. That was it. Boom!--Kindness. On the other hand, I had a prejudiced view of people who looked like this gentleman, and I let that color my opinion before we'd even had an interaction.
I don't often see my own biases laid out before me so plainly, but there they were, like freshly washed bloomers hanging in the sunlight. I try so hard not to judge people, but perhaps not hard enough. I felt a little chastened.
My son took me to school. I hope that I can remember this particular lesson.