Why Kindness Matters

I drive a 1996 Toyota Corolla. It’s borderline a piece of junk. The speakers only work on one side, the passenger door doesn’t open from the inside, the driver’s side window only rolls down once every three weeks, and it needs the oil topped-off every time I fill up the gas tank.

I never felt the need to have a nice car. I like my piece of junk. So when I got rear-ended on a snowy Tuesday morning on my way to class, it wasn’t a big deal.

At least to me it wasn’t.

The nearly 60-year-old man who hit my little car with his massive white pick-up truck found it to be a very big deal. When I got out of my car and assessed the damage of a broken taillight and a dented in bumper I had every intent in not even bothering to contact a police officer or exchange insurance information. I would have been perfectly content having him pay to replace the taillight and knocking the bumper back into place, an operation that would cost him no more than 40 dollars. That, of course, was before he changed my mind.

The man, whose name I never actually caught, immediately said I slammed on my breaks too fast and made an illegal U-turn, both of which myself, the nearby campus shuttle driver, and the state of Utah would disagree with. He called me young and naïve and asked me if I ever completed drivers ed. I reminded him for the third time in our short conversation that he was the one who hit me. I couldn’t believe how rude he was. I could never justify treating a complete stranger the way he had treated me. Here I was, acting as a completely reasonable person, willing to let the man off nearly scotch-free for bashing in my bumper, and he was treating me like a four-year-old who just finger-painted all over the walls.

I didn’t bother bringing up the option of not contacting the insurance company. I gave him my information, he gave me his, and we filed a claim. A claim where he took full fault for the accident, his insurance rate went up, and he ended up paying more money than my piece of junk car was even worth.

Kindness matters. The car you drive, the level of education you hold, your yearly salary, they are all nothing compared to the way you treat people. It will get you further in life. It will get you the promotion, the hot wife, it will get you the clear out of rear-ending someone; but above all it will make you happy and it will make others happy. Kindness is the only thing that separates the good people from the bad people. It is everything.