Random act of kindness goes viral online

Maybe you saw it. It did, after all, go viral.

Oh, right, so for those of you in my generation and maybe a smidge above, “going viral” refers to the phenomenon of a photo, video, image or some other such element having been viewed by scads of people online.

Though there’s no specific or scientific metric to spontaneously determine at what point a thing goes viral (in social media terms), YouTube personality (and self-proclaimed authority) Kevin Nalty has said, “There isn’t any set rule. A few years ago, a video could be considered ‘viral’ if it hit a million views now, a video is ‘viral’ if it gets more than five million views in a three- to seven-day period.”

Well, there you have it.

So, by any calculations, the picture Keith Kiel of Ormond Beach, Fla., snapped on his smartphone and uploaded to his Facebook page the other day is clearly a viral sensation.

Kiel was shopping at a Publix store near his home last week when he saw employee Gage Boucher helping a shopper, an elderly gentleman who was having difficulty bending and moving well. Gage noticed that the man’s shoes were untied and simply bent down to help him avoid falling over his shoelaces.

BTW, Publix is the sunshine state’s co-equivalent of Giant Eagle in these here parts. It is, hands down, my favorite grocery store in Florida. Just sayin’.

Kiel was just tooling along among the organics when he saw the scene that stopped him in his tracks.

“I snapped this because it was so unusual to see this in a person,” Kiel said. So unusual. To witness a small act of kindness for a stranger.

Wow. That statement makes me all at once so happy and so sad. Happy about the kindness, sad about its rarity.

It brought up several questions in my own mind:

No. 1: How many of us would have even noticed someone else’s untied shoes? Honestly, in today’s hurry-up-get-out-of-my-way and why-do-you-have-12-items-in-the-10-limit-line world – we’d stop to take a moment and look at someone’s shoes?


No. 2: Then again, even if we had noticed, how many of us would have dropped to the ground to tie someone’s shoes?

I totally would, though I’m not sure that’s a popular choice, given the fact that a man nearly shanked me in broad daylight for the other day for not turning fast enough on a green arrow. Sorry, Mr. Big-time Rush, I wanted to make sure the gal on the bicycle crossing in front of me didn’t get clipped – I’m selfish that way.


No. 3: Lastly, I had to ponder whether or not this seemingly tiny act of kindness is important enough to consider, let alone document? I mean, was it all really such a big deal?

Well, the folks in Kansas City thought enough of it to run the story in all of their major print publications. Heck, Fox News even covered it briefly on their morning show. Then again, considering that the greatest man ever to walk among us made a habit of washing the feet of his friends and even strangers – um, yep, I’m pretty sure this was a noteworthy and commendable occurrence.

“An old man could not reach down to tie his shoe, so not only did Gage tie the one (untied shoe), but the other one as well. All with a smile,” Kiel posted on his Facebook page.

Good on you, Gage. Well done. In one fell swoop, you’ve restored my faith in humanity a bit in a week when only sadness and tragedy seemed to saturate every headline.

Plus, my love of Publix is validated and someone proved that we actually have the option of using our Facebook powers for good.

Hope springs.

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who gets misty at hearing of kind acts. But don’t let that stop you from sharing some with her at pkimerer@zoominter-net.net.