The Kindness of Strangers


In a world full to bursting with anonymous internet trolls, tuts, sighs and enraged impatience in any queue, a world where there’s a frighteningly real possibility that Donald Trump could become king of the Americans, it’s easy to believe that kindness and goodwill to all men (and women) is a fallacy. 

Stood at the checkout at Marks and Sparks last week, just getting some bits-not my big shop obvs, it hurt my heart to watch the eye rolls and huffs and puffs of those ahead of me. The reason? They’d chosen the queue headed up by an elderly chap without lightening quick packing abilities. As he plodded his way along, even the checkout lady struggled to contain her ire.  Where is the compassion and the patience? What if one day that’s you and all you can hear in the background is snideness and irritation? 

Who decided that the daily agenda of those five people in the queue was more important than a little consideration for others? 

What happened to so very many of us that means that a little kindness and generosity towards one another has been overtaken by animosity and self-importance and grumpiness?  The world is a naff old place at the moment, with hardship and weirdness every which way we turn, surely the antidote to that is to spread a little cheer. It’s a troublingly alien concept that if each of us tried to be a little kinder to our fellow humans, the world might be a brighter and shinier place. I’m pretty sure science says that not only is a little kindness good for the recipient but it also makes the givers’ soul a little less blackened and world worn. 

Of course this preach was preceded by my own ludicrous situation needing the kindness of a stranger. It involved a dog and a field and a bit of Houdini style fence jumping. The dog trapped himself in a field, how he got in will remain one of life’s great mysteries but he wasn’t getting out. Having leapt the fence to help and finding myself knee deep in the mud, I was all but ready to weep violently, strap him to my back with the lead and leapfrog back over when a kindly jogger came to my rescue. ‘Pass him over’ he offered.  And he kindly took the disgustingly filthy dog from me, popping him gently down on the right side of the fence.  Thank you kind stranger, thank you so much for laughing with me and for putting yourself out to help me. Sorry about your shirt but you’re officially my hero. 

It was something so small that made my whole day better, that encouraged me to be a little kinder than was necessary to try to pay it forward. What would happen if we all thought that way a little more?