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Random Acts of Kindness That Don’t Quite Work Out

A little while ago somebody asked me what was the kindest thing I’ve ever done.

Tough question isn’t it!

Do you sit there searching through the 100 events that sprang straight to mind trying to pick THE ONE?

Or racking your brain trying to think OF ONE?

That one!

No that one’s too personal.

OK, that one!

No, no.

That’s just silly.

 

OK, I’ve got it!

I’m not saying that this is the greatest impression I’ve ever left on anyone.

In fact the poor woman was horrified!

But, without doubt it’s the only time I can think of that I actually went out of my way to help someone else.

Out of my way.

Out of my way as in I’d driven past her.

On the other side of the street.

Seen her and thought that I should stop.

Then thought the whole thing was silly, and kept driving.

Driven past a turning I could have swung around in.

Only to come to the next and decide that I should.

 

It was pouring with rain.

I was in the car with two tired children.

It had been a LONG day.

And there she was.

Walking down the street balancing a huge heavy box under one arm, partially nudging a hip, and dragging a suitcase after her with the other.

She was soaking.

And moving at the pace of a snail.

 

I’ve been there!

Well, maybe not a box and a suitcase.

Maybe not the rain either!

But I’ve been there.

Walking on a side walk with heavy grocery bags.

Burning palms and numb fingers.

Totally exhausted.

With cars passing by one after one.

Nobody offering any help at all.

 

OK – that ONE particular time might have been during a particularly difficult period of expat acclimatization.

When almost every other thought went along the lines of ‘why are Swedes so cold?! …Heartless? …Disinterested? …Cold’!

But something about seeing her struggling with all that baggage.

I couldn’t take it!

I think I even said it out loud.

”I’m NOT a Swede!”

 

So I turned around.

I’d driven so far past her at this point that I had plenty of time to think.

How exactly was I going to go about this?

You can’t just pull up your car next to someone and start shouting at them through the window!

No, no this could work!

I was a woman, she was a woman (it’s amazing the epiphanies you can have every now and again!).

The kids were in the car.

It can hardly seem concerning with two little girls in the backseat.

Yes, and I should pull up a little way in front of her and pull the window down before she gets there…

So she see’s me stopping.

No shocking her.

And she probably thinks I want directions!

Oh crap, there she is!

Quick explanation to the girls.

 

My plan goes smoothly.

The rain is pouring onto the passenger seat, but never mind she’s almost there.

”Hej!”

– You have to be kidding me!

”HEJ!”

She looks a little agitated.

…And who wouldn’t!

As if she doesn’t have enough to do without some random passerby thinking this is the opportune time to ask HER for directions!

 

Slight agitation turns into weird disbelief.

As in: ‘Who is this person’!

And WHY would she be stopping to offer a stranger a lift?!

‘There is NO WAY you are a Swede!

…And of course I don’t need any help!’

 

I hastened my most friendly, widest smile ”really? …Are you sure?”

Ohh she was sure alright.

OK – you win some, you lose some.

Up goes the window.

No harm in asking!

Quick explanation to the girls.

 

I edge the car forward and indicate to turn into the parking lot on my right.

Swing in.

About to turn the car around.

When I glance up to see the horrified look of a woman who is now convinced she is being stalked!

Random Acts of Kindness That Don't Quite Work Out

Linking up Random Acts of Kindness That Don’t Quite Work Out with #BrilliantBlogPosts#SHINEblogHop & #MMWBH

 

What’s the kindest thing YOU’VE ever done?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Comments

  1. Oh god – you can totally see it from her point of view can’t you! I’m not sure I’d have accepted help either. You tried!!
    #MMWBH

  2. AT least you tried, that’s admirable. Maybe if more people tried to be kind then people would be less suspicious? I tried to help a young girl who was sobbing in the street once and she told me to go away very rudely.

    • Oops!! A verbal slap in the face then!
      The thing is honestly, when she calmed down, that you asked might have been appreciated anyway x

      I totally agree …We can only try 🙂 …And there’s no need to expect that it’s going to be a ‘perfect’ suggestion!

  3. You win some, you loose some. Don’t let it stop you from trying. It is so difficult today to be kind without people being suspicious. I’ve helped kids with the bicycles and paid when someone did not have enough change with them at the store but I’ve had the debate of stopping for someone with my car more than once. I’m not sure I would get into a strangers car, so I don’t stop. It’s sad that this is the way we live now.

    • It’s true, I really don’t know that I would either!! Is it worth stopping and offering just for that person to know that they were seen, that people do care, that people do offer …Sometimes, maybe that’s enough? 🙂

  4. What a truly lovely thing to do – and isn’t it a shame that we now live in a world full of suspicion? When we moved to Somerset almost 2 years ago I tried to work out why everyone was so nice and struck up a conversation with you – and what they actually wanted! I have come to realise it is just the way they are down here 🙂 Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

  5. Perhaps making food once a week for months for a family of four, just months after having my stroke. She had lost her job and was pregnant and I felt so badly for her. When I had my stroke I wish people would have brought us meals once a week. To me, the kindest thing I did was something that I wished others had done for us. And she was totally gracious, which made it all the better.

    • What a beautiful beautiful thing to do.
      Your comment made me think of the the 5 languages of love – have you heard of that? One of the underlaying ideas is that we often express love and kindness in the ways which most speak to our own hearts too. But I think such practical help as making food for a family is always going to be greatly appreciated. I hope my eyes would be open to the people around us who need help. Thank you for sharing how you felt when you had your stroke, that’s going to stick with me.

      – I wrote a little summary post on the 5 languages of love a while ago, it’s here if you’re interested 🙂
      http://misplacedbrit.com/parenting/5-love-languages-at-christmas/

  6. I think it was a lovely thing you did! It’s a shame we don’t accept each other’s acts of kindness very often any more as we tend to be suspicious. I hope it didn’t put you off doing that sort of thing again and I think it was a great act of kindness to show your girls too. X #pocolo

    • Thanks Maddy! I agree with you, it’s important that our kids see us going out of our way to help other people… Whether it works or not 🙂
      I’m one of those people who doesn’t always ask for help as often as it would be nice to have it; and often, don’t get around to accepting help that’s been offered to me!
      …I agree with you, I think I could be a lot better at accepting other’s acts of kindness too <3

  7. Aww the thought was definitely there!! You had very good intentions 🙂 🙂 I have to say I walk around in a bubble most of the time but I really should make more time to help others where I can :0 #brilliantblogposts

  8. Goodness I cant think of any *pressure*

    I think I havent dont anything kind lately to be honest so maybe I will answer this when I do. What you did is amazing. You have conscience and whether it worked or not at least you dont have what ifs in that situation.

    #pocolo

    • Haha! No that’s the thing, maybe no one would. Maybe it’s enough to just know though that you weren’t invisible and it wasn’t that people didn’t care.

  9. At least you tried! And, that is more than most would have done. I have become better at offering, and accepting, help since I moved to the US as everyone here offers to do things, all the time! It took a while to get used to, and I’m guessing it’s a small town thing, but the lovely thing is that they mean it 🙂

  10. oh , well at least you tried and at least you know you were trying to help! I recently was in a baby change and I could see a mother struggling, I offered to hold the reins of her toddler whilst she washed her hands, she was very grateful. It was a small gesture but one I hope someone offers me one day, when you need an extra hand! Great post and really makes you think x

    • Thanks Emily.
      Helping with her toddler – that’s exactly the kind of beautiful, thoughtful, easy gesture that deflates stress. Noticing and actually offering <3

  11. At least you tried! That’s all that matters. It’s unbelievable how people can just turn down kindness like that. In a world where more disheartening things happen, I would think more people would be susceptible to welcoming kindness. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Eh…you did your part. Very kind of you to have offered. Although, I probably would have declined as she did. I watch way too much Law&Order and Criminal Minds to trust getting into a stranger’s car under any circumstance. #shinebloghop

    • Haha! That’s the thing isn’t it…
      Also, whether the kindness you offer is actually what the person needs at the time, and whether it’s what they want 🙂

  13. Great story. I have been in similar situations and never actually turned around. Always regretted that I didn’t. At least you know you tried. Maybe it will work out next time. (Stopping by from the SHINEbloghop)

  14. Oh dear, that reminds me of the time I offered my seat to an elderly lady on a crowded Stockholm bus, only to get told off by her in no uncertain terms. How dare I think she was old or frail or unfit or unable to stand, in need of charity etc. – these ”tanter” are certainly a feisty, easily offended bunch.

    Once though, my kindness was accepted. I was living in Nynäshamn at the time, so faced the nightmare of a daily SL commute. I was on train coming home from Stockholm one frigid winter’s night. The train was really late (no surprise there!) and when the conductor came around, I overheard him tell this man who was standing by the door with his dog that the time had expired on his ticket and he needed to get a new ticket. The man told the conductor that he had no money on him and instead of showing a touch of compassion or just letting it slide as after all it WAS the train company’s fault a they were so late, the conductor said he’d have to leave the train. Bloody unbelievable! He was prepared to throw this man and his dog out into the -10C snow, many, many miles from home knowing he had no money. He was very insistent and said they’d ring the police to meet the train at Tungelsta and turf him off forcibly.

    My spoken Swedish was not so hot back then, so I looked around to see if anyone was going to tell this jumped up conductor to leave the guy alone, but everyone pretended to be engrossed in reading their newspaper. Cowards. The conductor was standing by the open door of the train yelling to the carriage that we had to wait there until he got off and if he refused they would call the police.

    That did it for me. I got up, fished the damn fare out of my purse and thrust it at the conductor saying ”Here, I’ll pay for his ticket”. The conductor was taken aback, but immediately rallied and refused the money saying that I shouldn’t waste it on ”people like them”. People like who? I looked closer at the man and realised he was one of the people who regularly sat in the local park getting drunk. Okay, so he was an alcoholic. Well, so what? It didn’t change the fact that it was polar bear weather and if the train had not been late his ticket would have been valid. I so wished that my Swedish was better so I could have said all of that. Though maybe it was just as well, or I may have told the conductor what I really thought of him. And then I’m pretty sure he would have called the cops. 🙂

    So I gave the 20kr note to the man with the dog and said, ”Okay, you can pay yourself” and sat down. The conductor had to accept the money, glaring at me and we continued home.

    A couple of days later as I was down near the harbour I heard someone calling out ”Excuse me” and I turned to see the man and his dog coming across to me. He dug in his pocket and held out a 20kr note, thanking me for helping him. I tried to refuse the money, but he insisted and I could see that it was important to him that I accept it, so I did. He introduced me to his lovely akita, Nina, and from that day onwards we spoke several times a week when we met around town. He was quite an intelligent and interesting man and I was so glad that I helped him.

    • That’s just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Well done you. My heart just jumped when I read ”people like them” People like who? – I love that.

      – Please excuse one tiny edit to your comment above 😉

  15. Oh hun… at least you tried! I guess the lady was too scared to accept your generous offer after all the scary stories we hear on the news. So sad as you were only trying to help her x

    • Thanks Izzie!
      You just never know do you. Just because you think it’s a great offer, doesn’t mean it’s what they want 🙂 …People have to be able to say ‘no thanks’ too. That made me think of old people who can’t communicate so well anymore; maybe they get offered help with 20 things in a day, but none of them the thing they ACTUALLY want help with.
      …A thought provoker at least 😉

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