I love ice cream! I am not saying this lightly. I love most flavors, and most cones. I love it plain or with toppings, and I love it most when it is hot and sticky outside. There is just something old fashioned and comforting about an ice cream cone in the Arizona heat. That being said, one of my favorite memories of ice cream happened when I was a teenager in Mesa Arizona and I had just received my drivers license.
I had some pretty terrific friends at the time who all liked to tease me and have fun. That was a new experience for me, as I was very serious as a child and did not know how to have fun. It was a learning process to learn to laugh at myself and one I still can struggle with.
I was sixteen years old, and finally able to drive. Many of you can probably relate to that feeling of independence that comes with the knowledge that you are responsible. I had passed the written test and the driving test, and most of all, I had passed my step-fathers test! He was not such a good teacher, and the testing came with a lot of yelling and impatience for my failure at perfection. But, finally, all the rules were satisfied and I was officially able to drive.
We had a music concert that night. I was singing in the school women's chorus. There were four of us that met and were going out together after the performance finished. The guys came to see us sing and we were thrilled to have them there. The music was great. We did a wonderful job. At that time, we had made all our own dresses, and we wore them during the concerts. It was a source of pride to wear them on the activity afterwards.
We lived in a rural area, out toward Apace Junction. We had a twenty mile drive to and from school, so it was not possible to walk. For any school activity, one of us needed to drive and pick up everyone else. I could finally take my turn. That evening, we went out to eat and than over to the old Thrifty Drug store on Main Street in Mesa, for a little dessert. We each got our favorite ice cream cone to eat on the way home.
Thrifty used to sell their ice cream in cones up to three scoops high. The scoops were not round. They were made with a special metal "scooper" and were square. It was the only place that sold square ice cream. Not only was it inexpensive, but it was fun too! We could walk around the store if we wanted or just go straight to the ice cream counter and order our ice cream. This particular evening, we all got the three scoop cones, and were busy trying to balance them while we all got settled in the car.
I had only had my license for a week, and was still working on the subtleties of driving. (Particularly, the problems with eating and driving at the same time!) We were talking and laughing when one of the 'gentlemen' friends reached across the seat and dumped his ice cream down the front of my dress. I swerved and squealed and tried to throw my ice cream at him! He reacted by taking that scoop and smearing it in my hair! I swerved again and looked up into my rearview mirror to see flashing red and blue lights. I was terrified! (And humiliated as I did not look good with stringy ice cream covered hair!) I carefully pulled the car over to the curb and the officer walked up to my side of the car and asked me to step out. He looked me up and down and observed the ice cream all over my face, neck, dress and even in my hair. I saw his face twitch a couple of times, but he never cracked a smile. I thought he was going to take me to jail! (Are there rules about ice cream in a car?) He had me step to the rear of the car and than went back to the window and stuck his head into the car where he proceeded to address my friends. He said that he would usually give someone like me a ticket, but he could tell through deduction of the evidence that I was not entirely to blame for the reckless behavior of my car. He proceeded to tell my friends, that while he was sure I must be a wonderful person to tease and embarrass, they should not be so willing to do that while I was still learning to drive! He then promised them that if he had to pull me over again, they would also get a ticket! Then, he came back to me, gave me back my license and told me to drive more carefully in the future, and that I should maybe think about finishing my ice cream before getting behind the wheel.
Today, I still love ice cream, but I also am a little more careful about who sits behind me in the car!
That police officer, although he was completely in the right for pulling me over, chose instead to do a small act of kindness by not giving me a well deserved ticket. He certainly could have done it. But instead, he performed a simple act of kindness to a young woman who was still in the process of learning.
The same is true for each of us. It is not hard to do a simple act of kindness for someone else. The best acts are those that are unasked for and even secret. We can all do simple, everyday things that make a difference in the lives of those around us. We might not be able to do the same act as my police officer, (some of us don't give tickets!) but we can do other things equally important and memorable to those around us. My challenge to you today is to do something that touches the life of another for good. I know that someone is aching, not too far from wherever you are.
"How simple it is, really, to extend a kindness when we see the need. Jesus set the example on many occasions. He led the blind man out of the town. Just a small kindness, but a powerful example. God helps us to recognize the opportunities we have every day to touch lives in small and simple ways."
~Marjorie Pay Hinckley