Every so often, my dad would go into our family room and sit on the floor in between two giant, mustard-yellow fabric-covered, 1960s stereo speakers, lower the needle on a record, and just listen. He had three favorites: Juice Newton, Crystal Gayle, and Kenny Rogers.
Everybody liked Kenny Rogers back then but my dad really liked him, and one day, I asked him why. He told me that leaving a concert one night, he and my mom had circled behind the arena to get to the highway. There was a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk, eating a meal, and crouched down next to him was The Gambler himself, fresh off the stage. Two guys having a conversation on the street, economic class and social construct rendered totally irrelevant.
Kenny Rogers was a gifted musician, but it was his act of kindness that made my dad a lifelong fan. A lot of us would have had the same reaction. And I think kindness and respect have never been more important than right now.
We’re collectively facing some really hard stuff. We’ll come out the other side—we always do. When that happens, we’ll remember the tough moments and the stress, but the most cherished stories we tell will be of the kindnesses, from the people we know and those we’d never met before. I’m already hearing those stories as people rise to the very best versions of themselves and reach out to those around them. It’s not the stock ticker or the annual reports that come from this, but the men and women who figuratively crouch down on the street to make a human connection with someone who needs it. That’s what we’ll remember. Those are the stories that matter.
Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications and editor of Parking & Mobility.