One Tiny Note

One morning last week, I found a tiny, turquoise square post-it note fluttering in the breeze on my driver’s side car window: “Be careful. I saw a baby bird under your car.”

Oh my, I thought, staring down at the post-it, I hope the bird isn’t still there. I have an appointment to make, first popped into my head. Quickly followed by, What a sweet person to leave such a note! I wonder who it is. Then, What kind of baby bird? Followed by, I’d love to know the person who left the note.

It took a few moments for practicality to replace emotion, but I finally got out of my car, lowered myself onto the street and peered under the chassis. As far as I could tell, the space was empty, no litter, no dried sycamore leaves, no grass trimmings. And no baby bird.

My first reaction was relief. At least I didn’t have to worry about the tiny bird’s wellbeing. Then I became concerned. How long ago did the woman leave the note? Was the baby bird safe? Just because it was no longer under my car, didn’t mean I needn’t worry. Perhaps it was stranded nearby with no way to return to the nest. Should I look for it?

By now, it was getting late. I had to leave if I wanted to arrive at my appointment on time. I stood back up and slipped back into the car, my eyes searching for the post-it note, which had found a home on my dashboard. Once again, my thoughts went to the woman—I assumed it had been a woman—who had left the note. She was a caring and tender person. Knowing she lived in my world made it feel safer. And even though I didn’t know her, had no idea who she was, I felt connected to her through her note and our common concern for the baby bird.

All that day, and still now, over a week later, I think about the post-it from time to time. And whenever I do, a sense of joy flits through me. How sweet, interrupting her walk and taking the time to write a note about a baby bird. Or possibly interrupting her walk, heading back home to find the post-its, and then returning to my car to make sure the baby bird was safe.

This person’s small act of kindness has suffused me with happiness again and again. And it has made others happy as well. Each time I tell someone about the note, their face lights up. “How lovely,” some have said. “How very sweet!” Others simply exclaim “aaaaah” or “ooooooh,” as we spend a few moments contemplating the kindness of a complete stranger.

Think about it: one small act of kindness has had a powerful effect, making one person intensely happy, her happiness spreading to friends and acquaintances, all united by a tiny, turquoise post-it note, fluttering on a car window in Berkeley.

Alameda, CA

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