In this two-part series, we’re going to look at two types of kindness. The kindness of strangers and the kindness of loved ones.
The kindness of a stranger always seems to leave an impression that other acts of kindness don’t. We’re prone to overlooking the kindness of loved ones. This isn’t to say that we’re bad or wrong for noticing one type of kindness over the other. We’re human beings with busy lives.
Maybe, though, after taking a closer look at the kindness of strangers and the kindness of those close to us, we’ll be able to recognize more kindness in our lives. We’ll learn how to share it with others.
A month ago, I was traveling overseas alone to visit my family for the holidays. My husband opted to stay home and care for our young livestock. I said a quick goodbye and boarded the plane without too much worry. I was pretty impressed with my ability to keep my composure, since saying goodbye to my husband for long stretches of time isn’t easy for me.
I’m fortunate enough have made the trip across the Atlantic to visit my grandparents in England, alone, several times. Traveling alone can be exhilarating. The combination of risk and independence leaves you feeling like a badass.
There’s so much to keep in mind when traveling alone. You’re responsible for being aware of gate changes, flight delays, and most importantly, travel documents. After long hours of travel, your sense of space, time, and overall awareness takes a toll.
I landed in the United Kingdom with no problem. Everything was in order. Most of my journey was over, and all I needed was to take a train to my final destination – my grandparent’s home, just in time for Christmas Eve.
I arrived to their home, and was welcomed with warmth, love, and holiday joy. What a relief it had been to make the journey safely! After some catching up with my family, I headed to my room to unpack and freshen up.
As I unpacked, I noticed my phone charger was missing. No big deal. Then I realized that my passport was gone. Not in my purse. Not in my backpack. Not in my coat pockets.
Any feeling I had of being a superstar solo female traveler was completely gone. I had lost my most important travel document. This was virtually my ticket home. I was tired, husband-sick, and stressed.
I desperately tried contacting the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Consulate. It was Christmas Eve evening, so of course no one was answering a phone. It turns out that it’s really, really hard to get in touch with anyone at a U.S. Embassy by phone even during business hours.
I typed emails, pleading for help. “I’m desperate to return to my country,” I told them. The stress had caught up. I called my husband. I cried. There was nothing left to do.
Christmas morning passed, and after a good night’s sleep I felt the smallest bit better. I was thankful that I was safe, warm, and sheltered. Christmas is a good time to count your blessings, even when things don’t go according to plan.
Christmas evening, I noticed I had a message request from a name I didn’t recognize. I was so close to dismissing the message, but thankfully I didn’t. The message was from a woman who was the manager of the train I took from the airport to my grandparents’.
She had found my passport! I left it on the train. She had bypassed the official protocol and reached out to my personally. I was so relieved and so thankful. Otherwise, it would have been turned into Lost Property and likely destroyed.
We arranged to meet the next time her train passed through town. Accompanied by my grandmother, we waited on the chilly, dark platform, anticipating the headlights of the train headed our way. Atmospheric and romantic were words thrown about as we passed the time.
The train stopped at the platform, and she appeared. A red-haired woman in her twenties, with a most gorgeous Scottish accent. We only had ninety seconds to exchange greetings, gratitude, and embraces, but to me they were so meaningful.
If you’re anything like me, you’re skeptical about the state of the world. Friends, families, and strangers wage war with each other over hot-button issues. Social media is frequently used to shame others with different viewpoints. These methods lack the courage to construct a meaningful dialogue face-to-face, and often leave me wanting to crawl under the covers.
Thankfully, I can say that my skepticism has been remedied just the smallest bit. A stranger reached out to me through the muck of cyberspace to help me when I needed it most, when I was the most desperate and scared. She didn’t know anything about me, my beliefs, my experiences. I don’t know anything about hers.
I don’t need to know more, though. I know all I need.
I had to replace my phone charger.