Kindness among strangers

I was going to write a post about my adventures since my last post, but something happened to me this morning that has changed my mind. Today, I want to speak about kindness.

This morning was like any other morning. I woke up, I got ready and I got on my bus. I was going to walk to the train station, but due to sheer laziness decided to use the bus to the station instead. One stop before my time to get off, a woman got on the bus and puffed a huge sigh as she sat down next to me. She also happened to hit me with her bag. She apologised for inflicting pain on my person, I apologised for being in her way and we both got on with our journey.

As I was about to exit the bus, she took my arm and said, “There is a signal failure at this station, don’t make the same mistake I did, take another route”. I am a stress pot when I get thrown a curve ball. I had no clue how to get to work without this specific route I knew. I think she must have seen the sheer panic in my eyes and realised how bad my morning was turning out to be.

Her face immediately softened and she invited me to stick with her. She would show me how to get to work. We soon realised that we were working in the same area and that we could take the entire journey together. She took me under her wing, told me about her life and I completely followed suit. I told her about my family, my work, my dreams to travel all over Europe and she told me about her family, her upcoming ski trip and what married life is really like.

She told me about her kids and the crazy things they do that make her look like a bad mother. I told her about all the things I did when I was a kid that I didn’t quite realise what would make my mother look like. We were two very unlikely friends, but we made a connection somehow in the craziness that is morning rush in London.

Perhaps I should get to my point now, shouldn’t I? We were complete strangers. In a city as big and crammed as London, you don’t expect to make quick connections with people. You don’t expect smiles and happiness in the mornings, mostly you just get sulks and grumps. You stick to yourself. You try not to hit anyone or get hit by anyone. You go on your way as isolated as possible.

This woman, not only looked out for me but then also kept me company on the detour to my office. She didn’t feel burdened or stuck with me after she helped. She saw it through and made me laugh while doing it. It is something that you really do crave when you are in a new country, among complete strangers. They have no idea where you could be from or that this land is new to you. Only because they are in too much of a hurry to find out. I am even guilty of this. I see people asking for directions and I avoid eye contact so that I can be on my way without incident.

There are so many people in London that are not actually from London. We are all newbies in this bustling city and a little bit of kindness goes such a long way. It definitely went a long way for me. It set the tone for my entire day. One act of kindness, from one stranger, made my day that much better. How happy a place would London be if we could all pay it forward? If we could be nice to just one person? Even if the only version of “nice” you can muster is a small smile as you walk past. Even if being nice means pointing that person to an information centre because you have no idea how to give them directions.

I was blown away by the kindness of this amazing mother who was maybe spurred by maternal instinct or maybe genuinely wants to care for everyone. I really hope that I can pay it forward tomorrow morning and the morning after that. While I have kindness in me to give, I will give it! I learnt something so valuable today, and that is the value of kindness.