Narrative Essay – Kindness is Contagious

When I was teaching 6th grade English, I had to spend the year focusing on teaching how to write a  good narrative essay. With every writing prompt, I would write the essay alongside them. Here is the essay that I wrote for the writing prompt: Write a narrative essay about a time that you helped someone who was in need. Don’t forget to reflect on how this made you feel.

I wanted to point out that this is a fictional story. I wrote this essay in 20 minutes, but my students had 45 minutes to write theirs. Having my writing as a model for what narrative writing should look like was very beneficial in the classroom.

Kindness is Contagious

I stood in the checkout line at Walmart for 20 minutes before I noticed that the lady with long red hair in front of the line was crying because she did not have enough money. I stood there watching to see what would happen. A big part of me wanted to help this woman, but I barely had enough money to buy the necessities I had in my cart.

I started to get anxious and swayed from side to side as I watched the cashier tell the woman to pick an item to put back. I squinted to see that the woman only had pampers and Similac formula. How could you choose between those? You either had a baby go hungry, or your baby has to stay in a dirty diaper? None of these options were plausible to me.

I looked down at my cart. It was filled with boxes of cereal, fruits, meats, and other basic necessities. I knew my family could live without a few of these items. So, I quietly reached into my basket and pulled out some fruit and a box of cereal. I placed them next to the chocolates on the shelf next to me. I left my cart where it was and walked up to the front of the line.

The cashier had a look on her face like she was bracing herself for me to begin yelling at them for making me wait so long. Instead, I handed the cashier a ten dollar bill and smiled at the lady who was crying. The cashier just stared at me and the crying lady’s mouth dropped open so wide I could see her tonsils.

Without saying a word, I walked back to my cart. The crying lady grabbed her two items and quickly walked away. I think she was embarrassed by the whole situation. I did not mind that she did not say thank you to me. I did not mind that she didn’t even smile back. This just made me feel good inside to help her with the small amount that I had.

The next week when our food supply was getting low like it usually does around this time of the month, I thought about how we could have benefited from the fruit and cereal. I really wanted to go to the store and buy some more food, but my husband did not get paid until tomorrow.

I got in my old beat up Chevy truck and started to drive to pick up my kids from school. I hadn’t noticed how low my gas was until the red light turned on and a beeping noise began. I said some words that I would never say in front of my children and banged my hands on the steering wheel.

I pulled over into the gas station down the street from my house. I knew that I didn’t have enough money to buy gas. I parked my car next to the pump and put my head on the steering wheel and cried. I could smell the gas seeping through my vents as I sobbed.

I am not sure how long I had been crying before I heard a tap at the window. I wiped my eyes and looked up, fully expecting to see a gas station worker standing there with an angry look on their face. Instead, I saw an older man. He just smiled and turned around to the pump. He put in his card and pulled the nozzle from the holder. It all happened so fast that I didn’t fully register what he was doing.

I continued to watch him as my mouth slowly dropped. He filled up my gas tank and then put the nozzle back on its holder. He smiled again and then walked back to his vehicle. I sat there for another few minutes trying to process everything that just happened.

Why did this stranger help me? He did not know me. How did he know that I deserved having his help? Then I remembered the crying lady in Walmart. It hit me all at once and I began to laugh. I laughed so hard it hurt my stomach. I laughed so hard that I probably looked crazy.

I stopped laughing and took a deep breath. I put my truck into drive and then saw the old man began to drive away. I noticed a lady with long red hair in the passenger’s seat and a baby in the back seat. In that moment I knew that karma does really exist.

I will never forget those two situations. I will always help someone in need even if I am not fully able to help them myself. Kindness should be shown to everyone, no matter the situation or the cost.


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