One Word Blog Carnival: Kindness (with a side of Spam)

Here at the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival, we’ve been working our way through the fruits of the Spirit and have now made our way to “kindness.” But although there are scriptures about kindness, the two scriptures that kept coming to my mind were these two:

Mark 12:29-31 “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor has yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

It had been a stressful year. I had moved out of my parents’ house and almost three hours away from home to be near my boyfriend. With little more than a high school diploma, an ’84 Chevy Caprice Classic and a smile, I entered the real world—or rather, the world of the working poor.

I was trying to live on love, but it wasn’t easy. Shortly after I moved to town, my boyfriend joined the ranks of the unemployed and I was stretching my tiny paycheck to help with his rent, his electricity, and his meals.

After working for a few months as a secretary with a temp service, I got a steady, but part-time job, working in the mail room of a large insurance company. I was living in a room a little larger than a walk-in closet and making just enough to pay my $250/month rent, put just enough gas in the car to get to and from work, and buy some spaghetti and a bag of apples. Just when I thought the money was going to run out, I got called into the supervisor’s office. Was I interested in doubling my hours (and my pay) to move to a different department?

YES!!

And so I moved down to “the dungeon”—the windowless office behind the mail room—where we fifteen women  spent eight hours a day folding insurance paperwork and stuffing it into envelopes.

When fifteen women spend that much time each day, alone in a small room, they will either become competitive and hate each other or they will become very close, like a little family. And that’s what happened to us. We sat at our desks, facing each other, folding and stuffing our mail, talking about our lives and becoming a little family.

I was the newest and the youngest member of the group and so I was well watched-over. About halfway through my second week of taking lunch break with the gang, Arlene, noticed that I had only an apple for lunch. I put on my best Oscar-winning performance, insisting that I was perfectly satisfied with my apple. But the next day when we left the dungeon for the cafeteria, Arlene leaned over and whispered, “Grab your purse. You’re coming home with me.”

I was a little shocked, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings by turning her down. I followed her to her car and rode the two or three miles to her little ramshackle rental house. She sat me down at the kitchen table with a plastic cup of sweet tea and then proceeded to go over to the stove and fry up two Spam sandwiches.

Now, in my twenty years, I had never tasted Spam and when I did, I immediately decided to never eat it again. But on that day, I wouldn’t have shunned Arlene’s Spam sandwich for anything in the world. With a touch of her kindness to wash it down, it wasn’t hard at all to eat that sandwich.

Four weeks later, the board of directors called us all into the cafeteria to tell us that we were all being laid off and that the company was closing our branch due to the computer systems not being Y2k compliant. Four weeks after that, we fifteen ladies came out of the dungeon and scattered fifteen different directions.

The scriptures I shared above were about love, but isn’t kindness just the outward manifestation of love? Isn’t kindness just love with hands and feet? Today, I can’t even remember most of the names of the ladies that were the first “family” I had after I left home, but the memory of Arlene’s love and kindness has never dimmed in my mind. She gave a broke, homesick young girl a little bit of spam and a whole lot of kindness.

** Remember to go by Bridget Chumbley’s site to see the rest of the carnival entries on Kindness!

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Spam is the international symbol for kindness, you know. Okay, maybe not Spam, but definitely sweet tea. Gotta love Arlene!

  2. I love spam! (the canned meat, not the email kind) I bet it tasted wonderful.

  3. I think kindness was the entree, Sarah. You told this well.

  4. Kindness and Spam … will forever be linked now in my mind like peanut butter and jelly. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautiful story. Pity about the spam.

  6. I’m not a fan of spam (of any sort), but I do love the kindness in which it was served. A lovely story of generosity that once again shows how simple acts of kindness stick with the grateful recipients!

  7. “isn’t kindness just the outward manifestation of love?”

    really liked that.

    good story…thanks for sharing

  8. It’s really all in the bread. Good quality bread will help a spam sandwich. And ketchup.

    I had an Arlene named Allie when I had my first job, and her spam was butter beans, which to this day I have no idea what exactly they were. I remember everything she taught me though.

  9. the domestic fringe says:

    That was such a sweet story. It’s amazing the impact of Spam on people’s lives.

    -FringeGirl

  10. That was so sweet :-) And you were were so sweet to accept the gift even if Spam isn’t your thing.

    You know, if someone would just open the can, get it out and slice it for me, I’d fry it and eat it. It’s the opening part that makes me want to puke. Then die.

  11. So glad it turned out you all became a family instead of fighting – I worked in an all-woman office & had the opposite experience. Haha! Isn’t it great how God provides family for us when we’re far away from our own. I loved this story – and I hate Spam. :)

  12. You definitely can’t separate love and kindness. Neither would be complete without the other. Great story of kindness- thanks!

  13. Love SPAM!!! That truly is an amazing story of kindness. :)

  14. I have a good recipe for spam quiche. Really.

    God bless Arlene, wherever she is!

  15. Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it.

  16. As I have noted before on the twitter, fried spam with grape jelly on a lightly toasted hamburger bun is wonderful. Also Hawaii eats more Spam than any other state in the union. Cue soft gentle breezes.
    I too was once the baby in an office of older ladies. they took great care of me.

    Now you are the one dispensing the KINDNESS. I recall your ham story. That’s our Sassy.

  17. I love the idea of kindness being the hands & feet of love.

    I am fortunate that i was never *quite* at the one-apple lunch, but very very close to that. I was also fortunate that I had people take me under their wing for so much in my early days.

    What a great post! (Any post is great that can work Spam into it.)

  18. Your title made me think I was going to hear how email spam was really disguised kindness.

    I’m glad it was the other kind of Spam.

  19. I must step in here & say that if I offered you spam, I am trying to kill you. That being said, you give what you have to show kindness and sweet Arlene did just that. God bless her.

    Helen, don’t invite me for brunch any time soon, OK?

  20. Thanks for sharing – good stuff!

  21. Great post Sarah! Kindness always the ability to leave that kind of impression on us. Hopefully we can leave that impression on others!

  22. i guess all the fruit of the Spirit gets mixed together into one big old bowl of Love.

    very tasty.

  23. I too really like this: Isn’t kindness just love with hands and feet?

    And I love the whole story — though I don’t like Spam — even the electronic kind is waaaay too yuckie!

  24. Kindness without love is probably accidental; love without kindness is unimaginable. Beautiful story.

    Larry

  25. I ate Spam for the first time in Hawaii. It was surprisingly good! Kindness is compassion in action. It flows out of love. And it’s sometimes translated “mercy.”

    Beautiful post.

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