Sunday, 11 March 2012

Random acts of kindness.

Last week I dropped my purse on a pavement in North Swindon - it must have been twenty minutes later that I realised, retraced my steps, where did I last have it, maybe it was in the car, had I left it with daughter and the baby, had the baby eaten it ... you know the drill. I asked in Marks and Spencer's - more in desperation than hope. And there it was, handed in, with all my credit cards, bus pass, driving license, money - every penny was there.

Last time I was in Nepal I left a memory card from my camera in an internet cafe - and it was almost three hours before I realised. I raced back, trying to persuade myself that these were only photographs and I had my diary so would never forget the places I had been. As soon as she saw me the woman who ran the cafe reached behind her for the card and passed it to me. Then she did a most un-Nepali thing - she put a comforting arm around my shoulder.

I don't make a habit of losing things. (This is said to reassure daughters, as I shall soon be going walkabout again.)

But I just want to highlight the kindness of two people - both of whom have probably forgotten these incidents entirely - who made such a difference to me. (Not forgetting those who rescued me in Cambodia - but I'll say no more about that, in case those of you with the book haven't read that far!)

They have confirmed a belief that most people are fundamentally kind. That, in our ineffectual and often clumsy way, we look out for each other.

Do we all have tales of strangers who may never know the impact of their random acts of kindness?


  1. While at Centre Parcs a few weeks ago one of my kids knocked my glasses from my nose and into the pool. I tried a couple of times to retrieve them but the water and my terrible eyesight meant I had no chance. A young German lad was passing with goggles on and when I asked him if he could find them he nodded, dived and reappeared three seconds later with my glasses. I thanked him with the earnest gratitude of the near-sighted reunited with the most important object in their life and the boy just smiled, nodded again and swam off. That boy saved me about £160 and the embarrassment of bumping into things until I got back to our chalet and my spare pair. The fact that this is the first time in thirty years of wearing specs that I have a spare pair, made the possible loss of them (after only three months of buying them) feel really nasty. Only a pair of glasses, but those who need them to get by will understand the feeling of desperation that accompanies not having them.

  2. Dan - your young German has probably forgotten all about this. And you never will. Which is exactly why passing kindnesses are so important.

  3. On my first trip to Greece I left my camera in a cafe. Came back next day and the cafe owner rushed out to see us, he'd been looking out for us so he could give it back.

  4. Long story, but the man who vaulted his back fence to catch twin toddler one before she ran into the road, as I was chasing her whilst carrying twin toddler two springs to mind!

  5. Jenny, Sarah - great stories. More evidence that most people are wonderful.