Under One Unified Umbrella

, | Minneapolis, MN, USA | Hopeless | April 14, 2016

(I have sprained my ankle and gotten a hairline fracture in the same foot, so I am on crutches as I walk to the train. The neighborhood is almost entirely immigrant and Muslim, with a rough reputation.)

Me: *to myself, quietly* “Oh crap! It’s starting to rain.”

(I slow down, not wanting to slip, but am quickly soaked. A man is hurrying out of the mosque and makes a beeline for me.)

Man: “Are you okay? Where are you going? You look cold!”

(I tell him.)

Man: “I’m going most of that way. You can share my umbrella, since you can’t hold one and walk, too. I hope your foot is better soon!”

(He walked three-quarters of the way with me, giving me most of his umbrella and getting soaked himself.)

Now Pulling Into Kindness Centraal

, , | The Netherlands | Hopeless | April 14, 2016

(I’m travelling to the Netherlands from England to see my girlfriend, which due to me being a student, involves flying from England to Brussels in Belgium, then getting a train from Brussels through to Utrecht in the Netherlands. I don’t speak any of the local languages, only knowing a few very basic Dutch phrases. I have never travelled alone before, and have been travelling for around 12 hours at this point. We pull up to a station where I can’t see the sign, but as my watch says we should be 10 minutes away from my destination I figure it’s nothing to worry about. While waiting at the platform an announcement is made, and the only two words I understand are “Utrecht Centraal”, the station I need. I panic, thinking it’s naming the station we’re at, and rush for the doors right as they close and the train starts moving. Having no idea what to do or where I am, I start blindly panicking, twisting and turning trying to see any signs that will let me know what to do, when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn to see a huge bearded man looming over me looking concerned.)

Man: *question in Dutch*

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I’m English and I think I just missed my stop and I don’t know what to do and—”

Man: “Whoa, slow down there, buddy. What stop do you need?”

Me: “Utrecht Centraal, but I think we just went past it, and I don’t have any money for another ticket—”

Man: “No, no, that wasn’t Centraal; Centraal is the next stop. Here, sit down. You look like you’re about to collapse!”

(He leads me to a seat by the door.)

Man: “You must have had a long day, yeah?”

Me: “Urgh. I got up at 4 am this morning so I could get a plane I could afford to Brussels, then the train here, and I don’t think I’ve eaten since breakfast…”

Man: “You need to look after yourself better! Here, eat this.”

(He hands me a bottle of water and a chocolate bar, which I thank him for and wolf down.)

Man: “So, it’s a girl, yes? No man goes to all that trouble just for a holiday!”

(I admit that yes, it is, and spend the next few minutes talking to him about her and how we met. As we pull into Utrecht Centraal he gets off as well, and walks with me up to the concourse, where I see my girlfriend waiting. We wave to each other and the man pats me on the back again.)

Man: “She’s very pretty; I see why you were so upset about maybe missing her!”

(He then loudly said something in Dutch to my girlfriend and laughed uproariously as she blushed, then walked off, waving over his shoulder and still chuckling. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me it was because of what he said, but wouldn’t tell me what he said. Thank you, stranger, whoever you are – I’m pretty sure that’s the closest I’ve been to full blown panic attack, and you calmed me down almost instantly!)

Music To My Gears

, | Sydney, NSW, Australia | Hopeless | April 14, 2016

(I am attending an 18+ concert at an RSL. The concert starts at 8pm and I have arrived 10 minutes early, only to find I have accidentally left my ID in my hotel room which is 40 minutes away. I call a popular car transport company and am picked up fairly quickly. I am panicking slightly at this stage.)

Driver: “Been to an event tonight?”

Me: “Actually, I was going to [Concert] but I forgot my ID. I’m heading back to get it.”

Driver: “Really? But you’ll miss some of it?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Driver: “Tell you what; I’ll take you to get your ID and waive the fee for the return trip.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Driver: “Yes.”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

(In the end, we’d only been driving for a few minutes when I got a call from a friend saying they could get me in. But I’ll never forget that driver’s generosity, regardless.)

You Better Hold The Door Open, I’m Telling You Why

| Lombard, IL, USA | Hopeless | April 13, 2016

(I am leaving the mall where I work when I notice a young woman pushing an older lady that appears to be her mother in a wheelchair. They are still a long way off, but I don’t see anyone else nearby and I know the door will be a struggle for the daughter while pushing the wheelchair, so I wait and hold it for them.)

Daughter: *still a long way off* “Oh, that’s so sweet. Thank you!”

Me: *smiling* “No problem!”

(They finally get up to the door, and as they’re passing me to go inside, the mother grabs my hand.)

Mother: *very seriously* “I am going to tell Santa that you were a VERY good girl this year!”

(It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I am 27 years old. Telling my boyfriend would be a lot more helpful!)

When Life Gives You Lemon Chickens…

, , , | Seattle, WA, USA | Hopeless | April 13, 2016

(I work as the front desk attendant at a hotel. I work the evening shift, and have forgotten to pack my dinner. As I’m checking in a middle-aged woman, my stomach practically roars in hunger. Embarrassed, I apologize to the lady. She only smiles and I continue checking her in.)

Me: “All right! You’re all set! Is there anything else I can help you with this evening?”

Woman: “Actually, hun, you did remind me that I’m fairly hungry myself. Do any Chinese restaurants deliver here?”

Me: “We have one, here.”

Woman: *takes the menu and gives it a brief glance* “Anything you can recommend?”

Me: “Most of the food is pretty good, but I really like the lemon chicken.

(She thanks me and goes up to her room. An hour later I see the delivery man pass through the lobby, and the smell set my stomach off again. Five minutes later the woman is back at my desk asking for a plate. After receiving one, she proceeds to place her take-out bag on the counter and open a huge assortment of boxes.)

Woman: “The restaurant had a minimum order price, and I was really craving Chinese. I can’t possibly eat all of this before my flight tomorrow, so I thought I would share.”

(She then proceeded to divvy up half of every dish, including the lemon chicken! It was so much food I ended up being able save half of what she gave me for my next shift. She couldn’t have known how those free meals made my day, and even my week!)