Small Kindness.

I buy a battery at the auto parts on my way home from work. The young man there asks if I want him to install the battery. Heck, yes, I do.

The afternoon is sunny and breezy, not too cold, not overly hot at all, just about perfect weather. An acquaintance follows me outside, asking about work. A few years back when I asked for a used trampoline on our neighborhood virtual bulletin board, he sent me links for a few, and I found one. His grandsons were some of my favorite readers in the library where I worked. The boys have grown and moved on, too.

The three of us talk about land and taxes, whether rain will fall tomorrow, and how everyone seems short of help these days. Eventually, as often happens these days, the conversation winds around to the price of land in Vermont and what that means for our future.

The young man pulls out my old, nearly given-up-the-ghost battery. He tightens in the new battery and has me start the car. I’m in the kind of rush I’m in too often these days — running from here to there — the kind of hustle I do between work and parenting. The engine starts easily. I thank him profusely for this small gesture of kindness. He gives me a thumbs up. I wish him good luck with his project, and that’s it. We’re each off to our ways.

“Writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science; it’s habits of mind and habits of work.” 

— Alexander Chee

15 thoughts on “Small Kindness.

  1. Got to ask about the Chee quote!!!

    I was at a discount store the other day and among the few books they carried were a half-dozen books for writers. This is a “Five Below” store….like a dollar store. Who knew that among the clientele of this store there would be hosts of folks yearning for the writerly life? Go figure. Most of these books offered prompts for those who want to be writers. If you need prompts, my own feeling is you’re not paying close attention to your own life. Now I have been called a lot of things in my life but one of my favorites is “book snob”. I feel that if I’m going to read I might as well read the good stuff so when I retired I got several of those “100 Best Books” lists and started with #1. I had read a few but my horizons definitely expanded and I’m far from throwing in the towel. In addition, I was a reporter in another life with aspirations to write fiction myself. Anyway, point is, I have a friend who says there’s a lot of folks who want to make a statement but they don’t have anything to say….and I think this applies to some writers too so I question Mr. Chee’s quote. Here is my own recommended reading list:

    Opposing views welcome and respected!!!

    • Well, interesting! I hope I haven’t maligned Mr. Chee — his point is work, work, work.

      I agree about your prompt point. I’ve never written from prompts. Might be a good idea, but it just makes me yawn. Or maybe it’s late.

      I HIGHLY recommend Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel — a series of essays about all kinds of interesting things. Chee can really write.

      You also have a great reading list — well worth the look.

      Thanks again!

      • I don’t think you’ve maligned Chee and I didn’t intend to either. I just think that some writers have access to certain levels of insight and others don’t. Those who don’t may work really hard but they will never reach the rarified atmosphere of the greats. While reading Woolf’s ORLANDO, I realized that I’m in that lower coterie myself. It’s a hard realization but one most of us face. Our host being among the published, I believe her to be a cut above and appreciate her daily observations.

        • Along this same line of thinking, I know a few people — all women — who I think have talent and great imagination. Either through lack of work or faith (maybe both?), they’re not developing their talents.

          Thanks for the insights — and the compliment. 🙂

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