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?
No that one’s too personal.
OK, that one!
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.
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.
– You have to be kidding me!
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.
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!
What’s the kindest thing YOU’VE ever done?