We all know that even a small gesture can mean a lot to us in the right circumstances – especially if it comes from a stranger. Indeed, an act of kindness may turn a tough day into an uplifting one. And when Gloria Porter put a sign up in her window, the message deeply touched construction worker Jeff Reick.
Gloria and Jeff’s relationship had begun when the Connellsville, Pennsylvania, woman spent a week being treated at the Excela Frick Hospital. There, the elderly lady had distracted herself from the boredom of being in the facility by peering out of the window.
And Gloria had something to look at, too. In the midst of wintry weather that saw snow and wind hit the area, a team of construction workers were battling through. The employees were from the Century Steel Erector company, and they had been tasked with building a brand new front entrance for that very hospital.
The workers were engaged in a large piece of construction as well – although, in this case, it was only a piece of a broader $14-million project to do up the building. And Gloria was concerned about what she was seeing from her lofty third-floor viewpoint.
For one, the men were working in challenging conditions, and there was nothing Gloria could do to make sure they were safe. Then, while the senior was watching the construction workers anxiously, Jeff Reick, one of the builders, looked up at the hospital. And as he did so, he noticed Gloria watching them from the window.
Everyone knows it’s usually unpleasant when you’re stuck in hospital. Perhaps with this in mind, Reick saw Gloria staring out and therefore considered making a gesture of some kind. While Gloria was inside thinking about the workmen, then, one of the workmen was outside thinking about her.
And in the end, Reick decided to send Gloria a message. Thoughtfully, he lent over and wrote a visible message on the part of the building on which he was working. That way, Gloria would be able to see it even from a good distance.
Furthermore, the note wasn’t written in vain. Gloria certainly got the message, as she explained in a 2017 interview. “This one guy looked over at us and waved, so we waved back,” she said, speaking to WTAE-TV. “I looked down on the beam and he had written, ‘Get well.’”
However, when asked later about why he’d written Gloria such a touching message, Reick told WTAE that he’d not done it for reward. He revealed, “I saw the lady at the window looking out. I thought it would be a kind gesture to just to tell her to get well. I didn’t think much of it. I just tried to make someone feel a little better.”
And while Reick didn’t know it at the time, his message had touched Gloria. The patient therefore wanted to do something in return, and so she asked the hospital staff for help in fashioning her own sign. This message was then stuck onto a window, and it contained just two words: “Stay safe.”
But while the older lady may not have known, those two words have significant meaning to ironworkers in particular. Perhaps because of this, the message made a significant impact upon Reick when he saw it.
Indeed, Reick later told WTAE-TV, “That sign kind of crushed me.” He added, “It’s kind of like ironworker lingo to stay safe. When I saw ‘Stay safe’ in the window, I kind of snapped my head around and said [to my coworkers], ‘Did you see that?’”
The other workers had seen the message – and they weren’t the only ones to have done so, either. By the time that Gloria left the hospital a few days later, in fact, both hospital staff and construction workers from Century Steel had uploaded pictures of the signs to Facebook. Subsequently, the images were shared hundreds of times.
What’s more, the acts of kindness that these two unconnected strangers had shown to each other had somewhat of a knock-on effect. One woman saw the signs and decided to make her own gesture; she visited the building site and passed on some money so that the workers could treat themselves to lunch.
And while it happened to be a Friday when the woman dropped off the cash, it wasn’t just a regular Friday. On that date, it was National Random Acts of Kindness Day – and so the Pennsylvania hospital was likely not the only place in the country where people were being just that little bit kinder to one another.
The concept of a Random Acts of Kindness Day began in New Zealand in 2004. From then on, it has been celebrated annually in the country on September 1. The day has been adopted by those in the U.S. too; in the states, however, it takes place on February 17 instead.
As for the purpose of National Random Acts of Kindness Day? Well, as the name suggests, the idea is to use that time to do something nice for another person. That individual may be a loved one or even someone who is a stranger to you.
And there are all sorts of ways in which you can show kindness on this special day. These may include donating to charity, helping someone in need or offering to do a favor. Or, in one singular case in Pennsylvania, writing up a sign and sticking it in your window to show that you care about another human being.
Considering Reick’s reasoning for why he wrote his initial message, it’s possible he had no idea that his act took place just before National Random Acts of Kindness Day. “I just try to lead by example and be a good person. I just hope everybody would do things like that because the world is not a very nice place,” he told WTAE-TV.
And Reick later wrote a comment on the Excela Frick Hospital Facebook post concerning the exchange of messages. He said, “As the person [who] wrote this [message] on the iron, never in my wildest imagination would I ever [have] thought it would bring this much happiness… What was a kind gesture to someone under the weather went so far.”