The Kindness of Strangers

stranger-in-red-coat

Stranger in a red coat

A stranger in a bright red raincoat came up from behind me as I plodded across the busy intersection as fast as I could, but not fast enough — the light had already changed to red. ‘I’ll walk beside you’ she said, ‘They won’t want to hit both of us.’

My knee is mad at me so I use a walker. It helps, not only with my angry old-lady-with-walkerknee, but also with my old balance disorder, which has caused many falls through the years. (That’s why my knee is so upset.) The woman realized I was having a difficult time and decided to help a stranger. Why?

In my neighborhood, many shops have handicapped door operators which you push to open the door. Still, passersby who don’t realize that often stop on their way to pull a door open for me. My favorite morning breakfast stop has one, which occasionally isn’t operative yet if I arrive early. (The activator is above the door — I think the staff can’t reach it.) A favorite, tall fellow patron, Greg, will get up and switch it on if he sees me coming. Nice….but why?

door-operator

Handicapped Door operator

The other morning, Greg noticed my walker wheels were caked with what he thought was dog poop. He warned me about it, but I continued reading. I’m such a passionate reader, I didn’t even notice when he and his pal Garth wheeled my walker out the door, cleaned it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it later, and brought it back in. (I’m hoping they were wrong, that what they cleaned was actually ground up wet brown leaves which gather at the sidewalk cuts I have to use.) Why did they bother?

bus-driver

Bus drivers deal with some abusive riders

I regularly attend exercise classes at a community centre. I no longer drive. I use transit. How do bus drivers in this busy city who deal with mentally ill and abusive riders plus crazy traffic manage to stay so considerate? They wait until I’m seated before starting the bus. They patiently wait again for me to painfully rise and slowly back off the vehicle with my walker. (It was a bus driver who taught me that it’s the safest way to leave.)

This week I told a driver I wish I could sit on my walker on the bus. It’s higher and less painful to rise from. At my stop, she urged me to take the time to place it in a particular spot, set the brakes, and see if it would work. Not wanting to make her late, (they are on schedules) I told her I’d try it next time I rode a bus. Hey, it works. I hope I see her again so I can thank her. I’ve since used her idea twice. Why did an absolute stranger do this?

Then, the volunteer who sells coffee once a week at the center carries my coffee to a nearby table for me. It’s difficult for me to manage that and the walker — multitasking was never my thing. He says he’s not allowed to accept tips, I never ask him to do it, but he does it anyway. Why?

What makes so many strangers so kind? For one, I believe most people are inherently good. I also know that when I am kind to others, it gives ME a warm fuzzy. So it goes…..we give, we get. I am ever grateful to my wonderful caring family, to my friends, and especially those many strangers who are there for me. Warm hugs to you all!

chandra

My son’s beautiful wife Chandra who worked so very hard to plan a special 80th birthday party for me. She succeeded.

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18 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Great story!! I hate to be the one who bursts your bubble, but several of your family members and close friends have begged me to tell you the truth. All these kind acts directed towards you started two years ago. Do you remember anything unique happening to you about that time? I suppose I will have to help your memory, so I am going to spill the beans. You won the $650 million lottery! Your picture was in the paper and on the internet. All the so called acts of kindness are not so random after all. Wake up and smell the coffee. These people want a handout-a “cash” handout ,and you haven’t coughed up any yet. Help these people and start giving them $100 bills from now on. I could use some help too, so send me a check. Love, Brian

  2. It’s because you have helped so many people, including me, over the years. MANY years. The universe is paying you back–with interest…1% interest, but what can you do? People do like to help, especially people who are cheerful and brave in the face of adversity. That’s you.
    Judy

  3. 1. Happy Birthday-but there’s a typo on your age I think
    2. Yes, people are good. ,bus drivers and librarians especially
    3. If you do the book I can contribute an extra volume worth of examples

  4. As I told my mom, I enjoy helping people — and animals even more. But in the “people” category, I will always especially go out of my way to help a senior who appears to need even a tiny bit of assistance. Why? Because it makes me think of MY MOM, and I send hopeful thoughts into the universe that if she was somewhere and needed help, someone would help her. Since I would want my mother lovingly assisted, I offer that in kind to someone else’s. I also had a good teacher, as I was raised to get up and offer your seat to someone who needs it more, hold doors for those who might appreciate it, etc. Guess who that was? I guess my feeling about it all is that we are only here for a short time, and life is invariably hard for everyone in all kinds of ways. If we can ease someone else’s journey for even a moment, perhaps that is the best achievement that we, as mere puffs of dust, can do on a daily basis.

  5. Beautiful Muriel…everyone should help one another and this world would be a better place. Even a smile, a nod, or a friendly ‘hello’ means more than winning $650 million, isn’t that what you won, Muriel!! As always, I enjoy your writing and wittiness at your ‘tender’ age of…I forget the age now! Keep writing cause you make me happy!

    • Thank YOU Anne. I certainly get more than I give and I sometimes DO need help these days. I am very grateful for the kindness of others and feel it especially now that the U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving. LOL back to you, Muriel

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