Kindness of strangers

by Anna Blanch on March 19, 2012

Please be kind.

It seems a little glib sometimes to say something like that. But kindness is not about being sweet and saccarine. It can be about a more basic level of humanity.

It can be about recognising the humanity of the person next to you.

I’m sitting in heathrow waiting for the first of my longhaul flights. Only 10544 miles or 16970 kilometers to go.

This weekend was going to be about spending some quality time with two of my dearest friends and their beautiful baby girl. It was that. She is beautiful and cuddly and I miss her already. And my friends were incredibly accommodating to my inability to eat anything chewy or hard, and my lack of general ‘fun-ness.’

But it was also filled with emergency dentists, pain, tears, antibiotics, and ice packs — and not very much sleep.

There were lows…

I was put in my place by a dental nurse, after calling NHS direct, because I called from the train and wasn’t yet in the county where I wanted to seek treatment, I was physically pushed around by other travelers who also had somewhere to be… and in the midst of the weekend there was the mind consuming agony of not being able to hold a conversation because all you can think about is the pain and needing relief and feeling crummy about not being able to spend time with my friends the way i’d like to..

Then there were the moments where strangers showed compassion.

The train staff who brought me cool drinks periodically and sat with me when I momentarily lost it after the dressing down by the nurse over the phone. The tears continued as I dragged myself and luggage up a long ramp in the dark and the rain as I changed trains. It was exhaustion and a little emotional relief. Then there was a fellow passenger who seeing the train guard help me off the first train waited on the destination platform till I arrived to make sure I was okay. A stranger (a man on the worse side of drink) even took upon himself to give me an unbidden side hug as I stood speaking with my fellow passenger. In reflection, it was a rather odd thing to have done, and if I hadn’t been in so much pain I probably would have objected to his assertive display of affection.

But the lesson was this….people have many ways of offering kindness and each of them was much appreciated.

I was also reminded of the power of prayer. It got me through some of the toughest moments this weekend.

Which reminds me, I really need to write you a post about the lessons learned from the Taxi drivers of St Andrews. But right now, I’m going to hunt down some ice to get me through take-off.

See you all on the flipside.


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  • Kelsey J.

    Goodness, Anna girl. Praying that many more kind strangers find you. Perhaps they love God, and so are not strangers after all. 🙂
    Lots of love. – K

  • Sr. Ann Marie

    It is amazing in a situation like that to distinguish between simple kindness and the lack thereof. Your post reminded me of a flight a few years ago from Seattle, Washington to Philadelphia. I had fallen the previous day and boarded the plane with one hand completely bandaged and 10 stitches in my finger and a compression fracture in my back. I will never forget the kindness of the gentleman in Seattle who wheeled me to my gate and made sure I boarded the plane safely. And at the other end of the journey the attitude of the young woman who reluctantly pushed me from the plane to the end of the jetway and left me standing there to try to board myslef onto the tram. Seemingly simple gestures that spoke volumes about each individual. I do hope you are feeling better!

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