The kindness of strangers
Tell me, is there anything in this world more endearing?
I know I’ve spoken a little on how random acts of kindness do maketh the world go round, and how these gestures can not only make someone else feel better – they can also improve your day. 10 fold.
I witnessed something pretty awesome when I was in London just a few weeks ago.
It was a time when Olympic fever was at an all time high. People from all over the world came together to witness this truly historic event – and I was lucky enough to have a front row seat.
I was on the tube, heading towards the beginning of what would be the ninth or tenth (and certainly not the last) shopping trip across the pond, and just before arriving at Oxford Circus I witnessed an Indian family running to catch the train. They needn’t run so fast – they probably didn’t know that another train would be there in a little under two minutes – why would they? Public transport isn’t even nearly that good anywhere else in the world.
Back to the point. The little girl, who would have been no more than six or seven got through the train doors just in the nick of time, but she was the only one. Before she could realise what happened the doors had closed and the train had set in motion – with her family on the other side of the doors.
Now, if this were me at this little girl’s age (or a number of years older for that fact) I would have propelled into MFOM. Major Freak Out Mode. Yep, I would have had Niagra Falls-style tears seeing my parents slowly disappear from view. And though this little girl was obviously pretty shaky, she did well to keep her cool.
Strangers aren’t often known to really come through in a crisis so much these days. People see animals on the side of the road and only a small percentage stop and see if they can help – it’s just what happens. Busy people figure it’s just not their problem. Sad eh?
Back to the little girl. As she stood on the train, slightly quivery and on the verge of tears an elderly man who must have been in his late 70s leant over and in one of those lovable, truly English accents said, “Oh dear, have you left your mummy and daddy at the last station? Lucky the next one’s not far away, let’s jump off here and wait for them.” To that the little girl smiled and nodded.
The next station happened to be my stop, too. I jumped off and staggered my pace, wanting to see what happened with the little girl and her elderly companion. “Would you like me to sit down on the seat with you and wait for mummy and daddy to arrive?” the elderly man asked. The little girl nodded, grateful to have a grown-up in which to help her sort out this mess – and the two of them took a seat at the platform. I heard him ask her about her holiday, too. He had that gorgeous sort of part Santa Claus, part grandpa that you’d like to cuddle-vibe about him.
I walked away smiling. If I were to pick one person to help that little girl on that train it probably would have been a woman, in her forties with children of her own. A woman that would almost feel like it were her job to assist a small child like that little girl. Certainly not a 70 year old man. But that’s the beauty of the kindness of strangers, isn’t it? It can be all kinds of unexpected, yet always totally happiness-inducing.
Have you seen a memorable example of the kindness of strangers?
Have you done anything this smile-inducing yourself?