I am still ruminating on the subject of showing kindness and consideration to others, and it got me thinking about random acts of kindness. I started to think about the times someone showed me an unexpected kindness and one particular incident came to mind.
I have mentioned in previous posts that, in spite of not being a poster girl for athletic prowess, I have made 5 attempts at completing an Ironman – a long course triathlon with a 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42.2km run. During attempt #4 at Ironman Canada in 2007, I was the beneficiary of a very grand act of kindness that I am sure meant far more to me than was probably intended.
I am a ‘back-of-the-packer’. The pros, the elite age groupers, and the main pack are always welllllll ahead of me and it can get pretty lonely at the far back – particularly on the long bike course. For me, there is normally no one in sight and the crowds of spectators have long moved on. I was well acquainted with the despondency that eventually sets in.
The long swim was behind me and I was now about 60km into the bike course approaching a small town about 2km ahead. I was riding on the paved shoulder, to allow traffic to pass me safely, when a police cruiser pulled up directly in front of my front wheel.
Half off the road, she put on the flashing lights and slowed down to my speed – which at this point was only about 24km/hr. This move effectively forced all the traffic behind the cruiser to also slow down to my speed. We were now a very slow moving convoy.
As we approached the main street of town, the officer turned on her sirens. With the noise of the sirens and the flashing lights on a quiet Sunday morning, people began to file out onto the street to see what was causing the commotion. As they saw us approach, the crowd began to clap and cheer … something totally unexpected & emotionally overwhelming. I had tears pouring down my face and was absolutely breathless. This wonderful woman had given me the gift of a police escort and cheering crowds.
When we reached the end of main street, the officer turned off the sirens, waved good bye and disappeared quickly down the road.
I’m quite sure this young woman did this in fun – she could not have begun to know how much it would mean to a lonely athlete at the far back. I already knew I was not having a good day and it would be virtually impossible for me to make the cutoff. Her actions had made my heart a lot lighter so that I could enjoy the rest of the journey – even though I would not be successful in achieving my goal.
The world is full of very kind people and I was privileged to have this particular police officer cross my path that particular day.