The kindness of strangers

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers –  Tennessee Williams

How often do we hear good news or good stories that involve strangers? How often are we suspicious or wary of strangers; or indifferent to them? How often do we hear horror stories in the press about people being attacked unprovoked by strangers or something equally horrid (extremes admittedly). Every now and again we might hear a story about a stranger pulling someone to safety from a fire or lake or something but these are extreme examples too, this time of ‘good stranger behaviour’…my new term for it!

Anyhow, there is a point here somewhere. This week I’ve had four kind strangers in my life all of whom exhibited good stranger behaviour (it’s kinda catchy that term don’t you think?). All of these strangers did small things that made a disproportionately significant difference to my day/week/mood.

1) Stranger One saw me struggling up the steps of a tube station with a large case and offered to carry it up for me. I declined his offer and struggled on but was really grateful that he asked. When I was a child we’d often go walking on Dartmoor and my dad’s view was always that if you were taking a bag of stuff with you, you had to be able to carry it the whole way…and if you couldn’t you shouldn’t take it and you probably didn’t need it anyway. I chuckle to myself whenever I lug my case around nowadays….and insist on lugging it upstairs myself with my dad’s words ringing in my head 🙂

2) Stranger Two was a white van man! I was walking to a workshop we were holding in a venue I’d not been to before and was trying to juggle my work phone (with a pdf map open on it) and my personal phone (with google maps on it)…and a coffee too. I had my cardigan slung through the straps of my handbag and as I was walking down the street a man in a white van started beeping his horn…loudly…and insistently. He then pointed behind me and I realised I’d dropped my cardigan a  little way back. A small thing but he didn’t need to point it out (and he could have given up after the first toot) and I’d have been gutted if I’d only realised when I got to the venue minus my cardigan.

3) Stranger Three was an elderly lady who was sat opposite me in a coffee shop. I received a text from a friend that just upset me a little; I was in a bit of a wobbly mood anyway, but this lovely woman obviously clocked my reaction to reading it and leant over a couple minutes later and asked if I was ok….I reassured her everything was fine. About ten minutes later she got up to leave and she came over to me on her way out, squeezed my arm and just said ‘don’t worry my love, it’ll all turn out alright in the end, life has a funny habit of making that happen’.

I thought that was so lovely, she didn’t probe or hang around for a response, and it wasn’t that major anyway…but I can’t help thinking that few of us would interfere with a strangers business like that, but it really made me feel lots better!

4) Stranger Four was another tube example….I was racing to get onto a tube and got my massive case half stuck in and out the train door. You know that moment when the beeps start to say the doors are about to close and squash whatever is in their way….it just raises my adrenalin levels and doesn’t help my concentration at all. As I was struggling to grab the handle on my case and lift it in, a very cool teenager complete with tattoos on his neck and a hoodie just brushed past me, grabbed the case and lifted it in for me. I thanked him and he just shrugged it off, a bit embarrassed by my gratitude but as he got off he smiled and gave me a nod 🙂

So there you have it, four examples of small things that strangers did for me this week that I wanted to share with you guys. I’m fed up of hearing the negative attitude that is around at the moment. I’m hoping that by writing this post others might be able to add their examples of ‘good stranger behaviour’ or just simple acts of kindness. I guess I hope it also stands as a reminder that all of our actions can have a greater impact than we know at any one time – never underestimate the impact of a kind thought or deed.

Photo by Ganesha_Isis who you can find on twitter @GaneshaIsis

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