Op-eds

It’s the little things we remember

  • Howard Feldman 2018
My son, who was wearing a kippah, walked into the iStore over the weekend and asked the sales assistant for help with his laptop. The perfectly polite technician looked at the machine, quoted the price, and then said he should come back in two days to collect it.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Aug 13, 2020

My son was slightly disappointed at the time it would take, and must have shown it. On seeing his reaction, the attendant said, “You know what. A Jew was responsible for getting me off the street. Let me see if I can look at the computer for you quickly.” Which is exactly what he did.

Some years ago, I received a phone call from my father who was at the airport and had just returned from Israel. He sounded out of breath, and said that his shoulder was sore.

His car was being delivered to the airport, and I managed to get hold of the driver to tell him not to let him drive under any circumstances, but rather take him directly to the hospital where I would meet him.

On arrival at the hospital, we were informed that he might have some kind of infection. I wasn’t convinced, and went to see if I could find additional help.

Just as I walked out of the ward, a stranger came up to me, and said, “Hi. I recognise you from the gym. You always greet me. You look worried. I’m a cardiologist, can I help?” I couldn’t believe my luck, and took him to my father, who was, as I had suspected, suffering a heart attack.

The first few hours in the treatment of this type of event are critical, and there is little doubt that my perfunctory (but friendly) greeting of someone I didn’t know contributed materially to my father’s health. Even at the time, I struggled to remember having greeted the man who so kindly stepped in to assist.

This past Shabbat, my other son, who is in Cape Town on business, was walking along the Sea Point promenade with his wife and daughter. A man, who introduced himself as Arnold, came up to them to offer the toddler a chocolate. He explained that ordinarily, he hands them out at shul, but since lockdown, he’s pretty much out of a job.

And so, on a Saturday morning, he has taken to walking up and down the beachfront looking for kids who would, but for shul closure, attend synagogue. This was the first thing my son told me when we spoke after Shabbat – Arnold had such a positive impact on their experience. And, he’s most likely none the wiser.

There is nothing wrong with grand gestures. The positivity they bring to their environment is often incalculable. The donation, for example, of a building that houses a nursery school will result in hundreds of children being educated through that generosity. But grand gestures are rare, and the opportunity and ability to make them is limited.

It’s the small gestures that come our way many times in a day. A greeting. A smile. An enquiry after someone’s health or well-being. A text message. An offer of assistance. These are things that change the world. We just have to open our eyes to see the impact, and our hearts to experience it.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Wendy Kaplan Lewis 13 Aug
    Outstanding article 
    from the heart 5x56

Comment

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