The Kindness of Strangers

DSC_3818Life is in the little things. I’ve been thinking about the kindness of strangers, thankful for recent encounters with folks I’ll never see again.

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I was trudging up Morgan Lake Road. When cars drove by I was embarrassed by the trudginess of my heavy gait but incapable of looking like a normal person walking up a steepish hill. Then this truck passed me and the driver stuck his/her hand out the window with a thumbs up. What did it cost her/him to do that? Nothing. What that small gesture did for my spirits? Reinvigorated them. Thank you, stranger.

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Last month my husband had surgery in Portland. We arrived at the hospital at 5:00 a.m., departed at 5:00 p.m. My job was to drive us home. All that was required was to cross the Willamette River, merge onto a familiar interstate highway, and drive four hours. No biggie except it was Friday night rush hour.

As we entered the bridge, I hugged the far right lane so I could take the first exit on the other side. Towards the middle of the bridge I saw the sign that indicated a left exit. I had about 200 yards to negotiate three lane changes. The one rule I remember from Driver’s Ed is: Never change lanes on a bridge. Ha!

An excellent city driver is neither timid nor aggressive. I was both. I put my left blinker on,  punched the accelerator and slammed on the brakes. Husband and I both yelling. Go! Not now! Watch out! It was not the finest moment of our marriage. I kept in mind how much a collision would hurt Curt. Lord, help! was the all I could pray.

Somehow, three drivers gave me space and I took the exit with one car length of grace. The gorgeous generosity of people I will never know. Thank you, three strangers.

Have you received kindness from strangers lately?

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6 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Hello, dear Carol. I recently enrolled myself in the library nearby, in Bogenhausen. The kind lady behind the counter spoke flawless English. I found a few items to check out, including Jane Eyre on DVD! But … at the automated check-out, even with “English” chosen as my language, it was as clear as mud how to do it properly. A kind mommy and little girl who were behind in line guided me through the process, patiently waiting for me to catch on.

    I thanked them heartily, and Mom blushed; she seemed pleased that her English was good enough to help. I am always grateful for the kindness of strangers.

    P.S. Once finished, I stood by and watched her little gal pull over a step stool for this very purpose, and do her entire check-out on her own in a flash. I told her “I should have just watched you to show me the way!”

  2. Random acts of kindness from strangers move me to the core, Carol! Loved your examples! Here are two that have made my day recently:

    I was loading my car at Costco, wondering how I was going to lift the Costco-size bucket of kitty litter up into my trunk (inside the store, gravity had helped me slide it from a low shelf onto my small flatbed). With several rotator cuff tears I was feeling foolish for having bought such a heavy item — but out of the blue and at a trot came a handsome mid-sixties man. With a wide grin, he said, “Here, allow me . . .” as he swung that bucket up and into my trunk. I was effusive with my thanks but he shrugged and assured me that “It’s what gentlemen do for ladies!” . . . and took off toward his own car, one parking lane away. A small thing to him, to me it was a biggie and it warmed my heart for the rest of the day.

    Then last week I came out of a store and couldn’t start my car. Dead battery (and after I gave it some thought, I realized it must have outlived it’s predicted lifespan by a year or two). I called AAA, who promised to send someone with a battery within half an hour. I raised the hood and was going back to sit in the car when a late-fifties woman came hurrying over from two lanes away. “I saw your raised hood,” she said. “How can I help? Can I give you a ride somewhere? Or I can bring my car over and we can use my jumper cables . . .” I explained the situation, assuring her that AAA and a new battery were on their way, but she sincerely wanted to help in some way, offering me bottled water and again suggesting the jumper cables. When she left a few minutes later she turned and said “Well, I hope the rest of your day goes better than this part!” I assured her that she had just made “this part” and the rest of my day a delight.

    Unexpected acts by complete strangers. They leave an afterglow.

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