Train Ride ~ Act of Kindness #12

Train Ride ~ Act of Kindness #12

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photo credit: jack catterall

This recent weather calls to mind a trip years ago, when the family and I were scheduled on a flight out of Newark to Washington, DC.

That day, it rained. And rained. And rained some more. Some might say the rain was mild compared to what’s happening now, but the impact was no less dramatic.

The Airport was chaos; all flights were cancelled, passengers were frazzled and staff were overwhelmed. We were presented with the option of staying somewhere – no guarantees of a room anywhere – overnight and hopefully get a flight out the next morning, or taking the train.

We chose the train. There was a mad dash to get to the station where, by some miracle, there were five seats left on the train leaving in 17 minutes.

The train arrived and we boarded, after some fumbling with the luggage, with no idea where these miraculous five seats were. We eventually found two seats in one carriage, with one seat in another. The problem was, the two seats were single ones.

Ordinarily, The Man and I would have had no problems sitting separately. But a three-hour journey with a six-year-old? Separated from either parent? With one parent in another carriage? Not an ideal situation.

I plonked The Munchkin into the nearest vacant seat, and prepared to ask if anyone minded swapping seats, beginning with the occupant of The Munchkin’s companion seat. Then the train started moving. And I heard a voice.

“Need a seat together, do you?”

Well, yes please, but who spoke? Several rows down, a gloved hand waved. And a tall man heaved himself out of his seat.

“Well, come on, then. Come sit here so I can go sit over there.”

So the seat swap took place and The Munchkin and I sat together all the way to Union Station.

I will forever be thankful to this complete stranger who made all the difference on this journey. I thanked him then, and I’ll say “thank you” again now.

Buffet Line ~ Act of Kindness #11

Buffet Line ~ Act of Kindness #11

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photo credit: peter hansen

Some years ago, I sustained an injury that required walking temporarily with a cane for balance and support. With my usual impeccable sense of timing, I was booked on a cruise that would be sailing during this recovery period.

I had two obvious choices – cancel or proceed with cane. The family (and the doctor) felt a cruise was leisurely enough for me to manage, provided I was careful during embarking and disembarking. So off we went.

My movements were slower than I would have liked and stairs were unfriendly obstacle courses, but the relaxed atmosphere made mobility less of an issue than I had feared. Until the buffet line.

I don’t remember how I ended up separated from the family but there I stood before the row of serving dishes, wondering how I would hold onto my cane, my plate and dish my food.

“Did you want the chicken or the beef?”

Young Lady Passenger spoke from behind me, smiling cheerfully. “Chicken? If you pass me your plate, I’ll get it for you.”

I remember staring at her, startled into silence. She must have thought I was really, really slow. Which I was, obviously, in more ways than one.

“What else, Auntie? You want veggies? Pasta?”

I protested that I could manage and that she should get her own food but, nope. She heaped my plate, and then left the line to carry the plate all the way to my seat.

I have never forgotten that act of kindness and unselfishness. If you happen to be reading this, know that I remain extremely humbled and grateful. Thank you.

Helping Hands ~ Act of Kindness #8

Helping Hands ~ Act of Kindness #8

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photo credit: bady qb

Yesterday, I took a crowded bus home. Three stops later, it stopped for a Young Lady with a backpack and a tote bag on her shoulders, a stroller in which was a sleeping little one, and she was verbally managing a three (maybe four) year old.

Her accoutrements couldn’t quite fit past the support pole at the boarding point, so she moved to the rear where there was supposed to be a retractable ramp. Naturally, this was the bus with a driver who couldn’t or wouldn’t get the ramp out.

Young Lady ordered the three year old to precede her up the bus. Middle-Aged Uncle vacated his seat for the child, who took one look at him and shrieked for reasons only he knew. The startled Young Lady, who was still on the pavement, panicked.

Unfortunately, the gap between the pavement and the edge of the step was too wide for her to safely tilt the stroller’s front wheels up and into the bus – if you’ve ever pushed a stroller, you’ll know what I mean. In any case, there was another step at that doorway to conquer before getting all the way in.

Three of us had moved forward at this point to help. The three year old shrieked louder, the little one was now awake and displeased, Young Woman was frazzled and the bus driver was glaring in the rear view mirror. (Seriously, you couldn’t do something more useful? Like lower the ramp?)

An Elderly Uncle appeared. He gestured for us to move back, told Young Lady to tend to the three year old and physically lugged the stroller up the bus. Middle Aged Uncle had taken Young Lady’s bags and placed them on the seat. While we were all relieved that the little group was now safely inside the bus, we were concerned that the driver would move off before Elderly Uncle alighted. Fortunately, the driver apparently had enough sense to wait. Also, an Auntie up front had started raising her voice at him. (Good!)

There was a chorus of thanks all round. Elderly Uncle waved at us all and went on his way. We moved on. Sadly, I can’t tell you what fate befell the driver because I alighted at the next stop.

Thank you all, especially Elderly Uncle, for extending helping hands where they were needed.

Cab Ride ~ Act of Kindness #4

Cab Ride ~ Act of Kindness #4

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photo credit: peter kasprzyk

I took a cab today because, as usual, I was running late. Plus, it was raining.

The driver and I discussed the weather. How it was -67C somewhere in Russia, and how it was 43C somewhere in Australia. An earlier passenger, he said, had griped about how it once rained for seven straight days where he lived, while his sister’s hometown was in danger from drought.

Then he asked how late I was staying out and how I was getting home.

Can you blame me for blurting out, “Huh?”

He waggled one hand skywards. “This rain won’t stop anytime soon.”

“O-kaaay,” I said.

“I don’t know if you remember about the train disruptions this weekend? Nothing running eastbound from 10:30 tonight through to Sunday midnight.”

I had, indeed, forgotten about that.

“The buses will be packed – how you going to board? Better to leave earlier from wherever you are and get the train. You don’t want to be stuck in town without a ride. And remember about surge pricing in case you want to do Grab.”

Yes, I had a great evening. And, yes, I left in time to catch the last train safely home. Thanks to a kindly driver.

Short Story ~ Act of Kindness #2

Short Story ~ Act of Kindness #2

My lack of height has often been a source of consternation, hilarity and, sometimes, plain old inconvenience. But it’s struck me how often I have received kindness from my fellow passengers while travelling in a plane.

You see, I can never, ever, reach the overhead storage compartment. You’ve seen corgis trying to hop onto the couch, right? That would be me.

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the view from my seat

It is not always possible to do without carry-on luggage because there are essentials for a long flight: reading glasses, reading material, munchies, hand lotion, medicines … I must strategise how to best cram what I need into the seat pocket before my carry-on bag has to be stowed.

I can’t very well keep dinging for a crew member for help. Or keep waking up the folks beside me to get my bag – have you tried doing that when you’re stuck at the window seat and the other two passengers are asleep?

Kindly crew members have often come to my rescue to stow my bag overhead as I reach my seat. But when we’ve landed after a 12-hour flight? The crew is understandably busy. That’s when the click-clacks of releasing seat belts trigger the big question: how do I retrieve my bag? I mean, the compartment handle is even higher up! And my bag has usually migrated to the rear of the compartment.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I want to thank every single kind passenger who has ever handed me my bag while getting his or hers. Or reached over from across the aisle to get my bag. Or simply asked if I needed a hand (yes, please!).

I refuse to assume someone will help me just because I’m vertically challenged. Why would I take things for granted? Because you’re getting your bag doesn’t mean you have to get mine for me. If I asked, you probably would have, whether or not you secretly resent being asked just because you were tall. Or taller.

The point is, strangers have voluntarily extended helping hands. I’d like to think this is because they were kind. This kindness, which some might consider as a bit of a mole hill because, hey, it’s just getting a bag, no biggie, matters to me.

And that is what I want to express my appreciation for.