In it, the author writes about several instances in which the kindness of strangers renewed her faith in humanity. Most the experiences she relates happened while she was travelling, and the kindness she was shown often required sacrifice and bravery.
I had a similar experience in Panama one day while waiting for the bus in Panama City. My husband and I were staying in a seedy part of town—Peace Corps volunteers have little money, so we stayed in the cheap hotels when we had to go to the city. We were headed from the hotel to the Peace Corps office, and waiting for the bus on a busy street.
We were wary, and prepared for pickpockets and the like, but we both froze when a huge man stalked over to me. A good 30 cm taller than me, he came right into my personal space and hung over me. Didn’t say a word, but glared at me with bloodshot eyes, his whole body screaming murder.
I blinked at him for a moment, waiting for him to say something, threaten me, whatever. When it was clear he wasn’t going to, I smiled and said good morning to him. This elicited a grudging good morning back, but didn’t soften his stance.
On the busy street, the confrontation didn’t go unnoticed. A pair of policemen began to saunter toward us. The situation was about to get ugly.
That’s when the little old lady selling lottery tickets on the sidewalk took matters into her own hands. Though she was easily another 15 cm shorter than me, she picked up her umbrella and began whacking the threatening man with it, scolding him for giving Panama a bad name.
She couldn’t possibly have been actually hurting him, but he withered under her attack, shrinking away and looking ashamed of himself, and finally slinking off.
The bus came, and we quickly hopped on. Life on the busy street returned to normal.
I’ve blogged before about other experiences I’ve had giving and receiving kindness from strangers. Whether the gesture is little or big, random acts of kindness make everyone feel good.
We could use a little more of it, by the sound of the news these days. Go ahead. Practice a little random kindness today.