I have written before about what I like to think of as my particular form of OCD, the inability to let a question go unanswered.  If you ask a question and I know the answer, whether you were asking me or someone else, even if you are a complete stranger I just happened to overhear, you’re going to get the answer from me.  I have accosted total strangers in grocery stores, and even a father and daughter pair checking out a cool little sand crab on the beach.  It’s so bad, the poor woman who used to share a cubicle wall with me simply referred to me as her “smart wall,” because I would shout information through the divider at her.

So yesterday when I happened to see a friend’s status on FB had a comment under it from a woman I’d never heard of asking a question, I had to answer.  Apparently, her email had been compromised, and she was unintentionally spamming her friends with links to male enhancement drugs.  She knew about it, but said she wasn’t at all computer-savvy and didn’t know what to do.  Since my friend hadn’t replied yet, I told her it was either a virus or a Trojan horse, that she could probably get rid of it with her antivirus software, or else a local computer store should be able to help her out for not too much money.

Easy enough.  I have probably notified a dozen friends who suddenly started sending me links to odd things that they were infected, an on occasion gave them the exact same advice.  I literally didn’t think twice about it.

This morning, I got a friend request from someone I didn’t know.  I was puzzled, but then realized that there was a note on the friend request, thanking me for answering her question, and this was my friend’s friend.  Rather than friending a total stranger, I sent her a message back letting her know it was no big deal, but I was glad I could help.

She responded almost immediately, with a note that genuinely surprised me.  She said that she often had difficulty believing that there were more good people than bad in the world, due to her life choices and experiences, and she seemed deeply moved by the fact that a total stranger, with nothing to gain, would reach out and help her.  Apparently, a younger relative who is in college for an IT degree wouldn’t help and simply told her to figure it out herself, and she was frustrated and didn’t know where to turn.  My tiny bit of assistance out of nowhere appeared to be so significant an act, it had at least partially renewed her faith in human kindness.  Seriously, I’m not exaggerating here.  It was a pretty mind-blowing note.

So my answer was a random act of kindness?  I guess so.  All because I’m a compulsive know-it-all.  It reminds me that you never know how your actions can affect someone else out there.  If you try to be kind and helpful to everyone you come across, and you may make more of a difference than you know.

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