By Alison Perelman, Assistant Culture Editor
Somehow I managed to accidentally leave all three tubes of chapstick that I own back in my dorm room. And it was chilly with a slight breeze. It didn’t take long before I could feel my lips turning bright red.
Emporium probably has some, Devon said in response to my complaining.
But I don’t want to buy new chapstick when I have enough, just not with me.
I had resigned myself to stinging lips for the rest of the night when Devon came back a few minutes later and threw something on the table in front of me. A small pink package of Cherry Chap Stick.
A smile instantly spread across my face.
Last weekend, colorful post-it notes popped up on the walls around King library. They all contained the same message: “Good luck on your exams!”
With finals upon us — the stress building, visible with each furiously typing, overeating student — colliding with the holiday season, these simple reminders and random acts of kindness mean even more.
Alex Muni was walking on campus when the person he was passing said, “Have a good day,” out of nowhere.
His day was pretty average. But whether it was a good day or bad day, it still made him feel nice. Alex doesn’t get that a lot.
“I think it’s nice to have people do something for you,” Alex said. “I think if everybody does it — like somebody does something nice for you and then you do something nice for somebody else and then they do something nice for somebody else — I think it can really make a difference.”
That same day, Alex was doing his dishes and decided to clean his housemates’ too. They were just sitting there, so he figured why not. His housemate didn’t even notice, but it didn’t matter.
“I think since we’re approaching finals week and since everybody is really stressed out, everybody’s thinking about homework and projects and exams and stuff, I think it would be especially nice if somebody did something helpful for somebody else,” Alex said. “When it’s stressful like this, I think an act of kindness, a random act of kindness will go farther.”
Earl Marshall, a server at Bob Evans, decided to give a woman free biscuits.
“I was just feeling good,” he said.
And she returned the favor — tipping him $10 with a “Merry Christmas.”
It made Earl feel good, both to give and to get, and it was a nice reminder — it might be rare, but there are good people in the world and it does happen.
“I think you’d be surprised at how nice strangers can be, actually,” Earl said. “People like to be generous when people don’t know that it’s them. It happens all the time at my job. People pay for other people’s meals, and they’ll never say anything.”
Will Ziegert was at Chipotle for the Engineers Without Borders fundraiser when he decided he wanted something sweet to eat. He headed to Insomnia.
Greg and Renate Crawford love to walk around Uptown and go to Insomnia — Renate may or may not have a large addiction to their cookies.
Will and the Crawfords ended up waiting at the same crosswalk, and Will wasn’t about to jaywalk in front of the president, so they started talking.
Greg asked about Will’s major and how the semester was going. They wound up in line together, and the Crawfords offered to buy Will some cookies. They will often buy a box to pass out to students on the walk back. Because who doesn’t love cookies?
He politely declined at first. No, no. It’s fine.
But eventually he accepted the offer.
“I’m sure to them it didn’t seem like much because it was three cookies, but as a college student, I guess you can take what you get,” Will said. “They didn’t have to do that. And it just kinda goes to show that them being here this semester is really cool and what they’re doing for Miami is really cool.”
Being a former professor, Renate knows what the stress of finals can do to students. And being a mother, she tries to do everything she can.
“I look at it like, at least in some ways, all of you are my kids,” Renate said. “That’s why I give out my unsolicited motherly advice.”
She recently reminded more than a dozen students in Armstrong to eat well and make sure to get sleep.
Greg wished Will luck on his exams and told him that they’ll be glad to have the students back after break.
“It’s helpful to know that in the midst of everyone being stressed and worried about all these finals that there are people who care about you,” Will said.
And that’s exactly what Renate wanted — to give students confidence, make them feel good about themselves and know they’re appreciated.
“It’s these little things. And sometimes you don’t know what people are going through.”