You never know how the most subtle act of kindness can change someone’s day. It just happened to me in the most random of ways.

I was walking through a large discount store a few days ago. I had my earbuds in while listening to an audiobook. I do it a lot when I shop. I feel like I’m maximizing my time and it gives me a moment to zone out.

Anyway, I got stuck behind a family taking way too long to compare laundry detergent. Because I had my book on, I waited patiently. Normally, I would have excused myself and pushed through or turned around. But I waited.

When I looked over at them again, their daughter, a cute little blonde girl of maybe twelve or thirteen, smiled at me and pointed to her ear. She liked my AirPods. A bit uncomfortably, I smiled back and gave a little nod. I didn’t want to be the creepy guy smiling at a pre-teen but also didn’t want to ignore the gesture.

Her small act of kindness was nice. It certainly shook me out of my mundane grocery experience. I walked away a bit lighter.

Why should that be noteworthy? Because we don’t do it with anyone. At best, we pass by trying not to make eye contact and hopefully, we’re polite. We’ve all also experienced the random act of annoyance or anger from a passerby. Maybe we’ve even delivered it.

Later that day, walking on a sidewalk, I saw a guy staring at the ground while walking toward me. He was clean-cut and well-dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, but walking slowly, slouched, and had the general body language of someone that was not in the middle of a good thought.

With that girl and how I now felt in mind, when he looked up I gave him a smile and a nod. He immediately loosened up and smiled back. My momentary little kindness seemed to break him, if even for a moment, from his thought.

At least I think so. He may have been thinking, “why is this wacko looking at me?”

Either way, I think I did good.

I don’t know what was going on with that guy, maybe nothing. I’m assuming things I don’t know, for sure. I hope that it mattered as much as I think it did. I don’t think it could have hurt.

Beyond that, a little side effect was that it made me feel good too.

A 13-year-old girl gave me what most of us don’t give any stranger… a virtual high five, an ego boost, a random act of kindness. She brightened my day by smiling and pointing out something that she liked about me or what I was doing. That genuine, almost naive, delivery of kindness gets taken away from most of us as we grow up. We certainly don’t hand it out freely like a 13-year-old might.

So, smile at someone. Even if it makes them think you’re a wacko. You never know who’s day you might make better. The act of giving someone a kindness might even make you feel good too.