Thursday

Jimmytheicecreamman and Kindness

Jimmytheicecreamman has an unrivaled place in my heart.  You may question the spelling of his name, but every child in the small Rhode Island neighborhood where I spent my early years would testify to its accuracy.  Whenever we would hear the bell and see the white truck advancing slowly down the street, we would sound the call, “JIMMYTHEICECREAMMAN!!!!!”  Looking back, I am convinced that children from as far away as Vermont and New Hampshire would swarm the truck like ants on a forgotten lollypop.
Whether we swarmed Jimmy’s truck for the frozen treats or for a moment with Jimmy himself, I’m not sure.  Both melted together to form a magic that was unmistakable.
If you looked up “Grandfather” in the dictionary, Jimmy’s picture would be there.  A pink-faced man with a thick head of hair as white as vanilla ice cream, He always wore a spotless apron and a smile.  He knew each of us by name and had our favorite flavors memorized. No pre-packaged Nutty Buddies or squashed ice cream sandwiches disgraced his truck.  All his ice cream was hand-scooped.
On this day, his grin met mine as he intuitively sensed the struggle going on inside me.  Gently he raised the question with which I had been wrestling, “Maple Walnut or Raspberry Sherbet?”
Recklessly I spoke my choice in a rush of words, lest I change my mind again. “Maple Walnut!” I said.  I slid the precious quarter across the cold steel of the ledge as he handed my treasure through the window. Grasping it carefully and extending my tongue to catch the drip that was already forming on the bottom most of the three scoops, I backed away from the truck to make room for the next child.
That was when disaster struck.
I had forgotten that in my haste I had dumped my bicycle in the sand as I approached the truck.  Unaware of the bicycle, I stepped back into the rear tire, lost my balance, and fell, sprawling across the prone bicycle with a cry of surprise.   
My startled cry quickly escalated into a full-blown wail as I saw my precious ice cream cone upended in the sand.  One look was enough.  The sacred had become defiled. Running faster than I had when Jimmy’s bell first chimed, I flew through the door of our apartment, flung myself into my mother’s arms, and cried inconsolably.
Before she could even begin to discern what had happened, a knock sounded on the door.  My friend Freddy stood there, like a Magi bearing a gift for the Christ child.  He proudly extended the treasure, a fully-upright, sand-free triple scoop Maple Walnut ice cream cone.  “It’s from Jimmy,” he said unnecessarily. “He said he hopes you aren’t hurt.”
In Ephesians 4:32, God instructs us to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted.” Sometimes I forget the quiet power of kindness.  It doesn’t take a lot of time or money.  It just takes a tender heart that's quick to respond to the needs and pain of others.
As you move through your day today, ask God to show you someone who needs a kind word or gesture.  Like Jimmytheicecreamman, you could singlehandedly change the direction of someone’s day.

When was the last time you were the recipient of an act of kindness? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your story.








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