There’s a post on Buzzfeed right now where people are sharing stories of when strangers performed a random act of kindness. As I’m reading, I’m remembering more and more times in my life when I’ve benefited from the kindness of strangers, so I thought I would share a few. We could all use more nice stories these days, right?
Let’s talk about my first car accident. It was a few months after I had gotten my license, and I was driving my friend and I to a tech rehearsal for Grease. I missed a turn I was looking for, so I was going to pull into a development on the left and turn around. While trying to change into the left lane (blinker on, btw), a van came speeding up behind me, and I slammed into the middle of the car, kind of ricocheting off of their sliding door. We both stopped, and the woman driving the van got out of the car to see if we were ok (it bears mentioning that she was driving her daughter to the same rehearsal we were going to…THAT was awkward). We were pretty shaken up, but no one had been injured. We got both cars to the side of the road and called the police. I had wrecked the front headlight of my DAD’S car, and I was still a little in shock from the impact, so naturally I cried quite a bit. The cops arrived and took a report, and one of them pulled me aside and told me everything was going to be ok. He pulled the wiper fluid bottle off of the hanging headlight and said, “see this? This is nothing, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’re ok.” It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment; it was an honest mistake, and the cars could be fixed. This was the first of several interactions I had with kind Voorhees cops – I used to have an unfortunate habit of locking my keys in my car.
The next one also involves a car, but this one was not my fault. I was driving to school one day senior year in my 1996 Nissan Maxima (you know the one), when it stalled as I was waiting to make a left turn. This turned out to be a pattern with that car, but it was the first time it happened, and I had no idea what to do. I called my dad who came over to help me out, and he couldn’t figure it out either. As we were dealing with this (and blocking traffic) a woman in a minivan (sensing a pattern here…) pulled up and, seeing my uniform, asked if I went to Bishop Eustace and wanted a ride there. I looked at my dad like, “are we cool with this, or…” She had her children in the car, so we figured she wasn’t a lunatic, and I hopped in. She went out of her way to drop me off at school on her way to dropping her own kids off. Also to confirm she was not a lunatic.
Fast forward to college: junior year, I spent the fall semester in London, which was a great idea, but I had a little trouble getting there. My connecting flight from Frankfurt was delayed, so I missed the bus that everyone else on the program took. Instead I was supposed to call one of the admins to have her pick me up when I arrived at Heathrow. Seems simple enough, but this was my first trip outside the US and no one had explained to me how country codes work. I’m trying and trying to dial this woman’s number as it’s written, with the +44 at the beginning, and predictably getting nowhere. Finally an operator picks up and essentially asks me what the hell I’m doing (albeit in a very nice and British way). I explain the issue and he asks me to read the number to him. He understood what was happening and connected me to the admin…and then connected me again 30 minutes later when I had the same problem. A small kindness, admittedly, but I would not have made it home without him.
Another travel tale: I was visiting a friend in New Orleans after college, and my flight was delayed 6 hours. Since I was going to miss my connecting flight, I went up to the desk to see if anything could be done to get me there. They were slammed with similar requests, obviously, but one of the gate attendants took pity on me and somehow got me on a flight with another airline. The gate was clear across Philadelphia International Airport and about to leave, so I hustled my way over there. The gate attendant had called ahead, so they had my boarding pass ready and held the door for me to board. Teamwork makes the dream work. (obviously there was nothing to be done about my checked bag – lesson learned.)
UPDATE: Thought of another one! Long story short, Ginny and I had a shit time in Italy and decided to go back to London early. After a harrowing cab ride and a tearful phone call to our parents to pay to change our flights, we finally made it to our gate at the airport. It was 2pm, and we had been up since about 6am. I realized I had forgotten to eat all day because Ginny was sick, so I went over to one of the counters and just…stared at the menu. It was in Italian, and my brain had stopped working, so I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. After a minute, the gentleman behind the counter looked at me and said, in English, “you want a sandwich? Ham and cheese?” And I looked at him through tears of gratitude and said, “yes I do!” It doesn’t sound like much, but in that moment, I really needed someone to offer me a ham and cheese sandwich, and this nice Italian man delivered. It was a good sandwich, too.
Those are just a few. I’ve had the privilege of encountering many kind individuals in my life, and I hope that I’ve been a source of kindness for others. The world can be a real dumpster fire sometimes, so we should all be trying to spread kindness where we can.
Share your stories below!