Kindness Comes In Every Language

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 25, 2018

I’m on my bike riding home from work, and it’s raining heavily. I decide to detour a bit and seek shelter beneath a bridge underneath the train station. Just before I reach the bridge I see a woman who is desperately trying to get someone’s attention. I stop, thinking she wants directions or something. She starts talking to me in a language I don’t understand, but she seems very upset. She keeps mentioning the next town over and waves around a paper with the logo of the local college, which is situated right next to the station.

First I think she wants to know how the get to the next town. I tell her, using more hand gestures toward the station platforms than actual words, to take the train. She makes a walking movement and says “no euros.” I try to tell her that the town’s too far to walk from here. Eventually I pull up Google Translate on my phone and find out she speaks Arabic. I try to communicate with her through that, but she keeps waving the paper frantically. She breaks down crying in frustration. I can imagine it’s difficult to find help in a country where no one understands you, so I take her hand and say, “I’ll help you.”

Still crying, she starts kissing my hand in gratitude. I walk her over to the college, while she continues to talk to me in Arabic, and go to the reception desk, asking if someone here speaks Arabic, but the woman is now waving her paper in front of the receptionist’s face. The receptionist takes it and confirms that the lady is indeed supposed to be here for some sort of class. Relieved, I take the woman’s hand again, as she is still looking scared and confused. I tell her, “She will take care of you. You’ll be okay, now. Okay?” Again she kisses my hand and keeps talking to me. I don’t understand a word. The receptionist takes her away and I go home.

Yes, I was worried this was a scam. There are lots of refugees here who try to make you feel sorry for them and mug you in the meantime. I feel so sorry for refugees like this woman, who truly seemed desperate and scared, who no one wanted to help because she’s foreign. I hope she turns out okay.

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Guardian Angel: Roadside Assistance

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 13, 2018

(I am driving along a country road in unusually cold and snowy weather when I skid on a patch of ice and crash through a hedge. I have my two kids in the car with me, and we are unhurt, but pretty shaken up. We get out of the car and, sure enough, it is utterly stuck. The weather is very, very cold, it is starting to get dark, and we aren’t dressed for it. I try to phone my husband to get him to come and rescue us, but there is no reply. I decide to ring the rescue service, but I know they’ll take an hour or so to get there. Just as I am starting to get really worried, a van drives past, reverses, and pulls up alongside us. I tense up, realising we are pretty vulnerable, out there in the middle of nowhere. A tall, muscular-looking woman wearing muddy manual labour clothing gets out and comes over to us. She gives us a cheerful smile, as if seeing us made her day.)

Woman: “I’ve got some ropes in the van; would you like me to haul you out?”

Me: “Oh, yes, please, if you could!”

Woman: “Are you all okay? Anybody hurt?”

Me: “No, we’re fine.”

Woman: *to my kids* “I bet you’re cold, though. Hang on…”

(She goes and rummaged in her cabin and gets out two fluffy blankets with cute cartoon owls on them. She kneels down — in the snow! — and talks to my kids.)

Woman: “These are for you, if you want them.”

(My son and daughter, a bit shocked and shy about this strange woman, look at me, and I nod. They take the blankets gratefully and wrap themselves up in them.)

Woman: “Right, let’s get you out.”

(She quickly gets our car roped up to her van and easily pulls it backwards out of the hedge and back onto the road. It is such a huge relief when I am able to start the engine successfully.)

Woman: “Have you got far to go?”

Me: “We’re just going to [Nearby Town].”

Woman: “Is it okay if I escort you? Just to make sure your car isn’t damaged?”

Me: “Uh, yes, please.”

Woman: “Okay, I was heading that way, anyway. I’ll follow you.”

(Sure enough, the car was fine, and she waved goodbye when we got into town. What I really regret, and why I’m writing this, is that I never said, “Thank you.” I was too shaken up by the whole thing. So, if you’re reading this, mysterious lady, many thanks; you might have saved our lives. My daughter is now in her teens and still has the blanket with the owls on it. She says her guardian angel gave it to her.)

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Running Into The Street-Wise

, , , , , | Friendly | January 4, 2018

(My mother is at the bus stop and sees a guy stumbling around, from the sidewalk to the bike path, and close to the curb. She calls the police so they can take care of him, as he is clearly too out of it to be safe on his own in public. They arrive and talk to him, asking about alcohol and drugs. He admits to taking some drugs, then suddenly turns on my mother.)

Druggie: *yelling* “Look at all the trouble you got me in!”

Mother: *yelling back* “I saved your life! You were almost running into the street!”

(So much for helping people.)

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Talking To A “Hiya” Power

, , , , | Working | January 3, 2018

(My toddler’s first word was “hiya,” and it’s probably still her favourite one. Strangers usually take her open nature very well, and I tell them that if they talk to her they’re her friends for life. Our apartment block’s ground floor consists of commercial units, so it’s a common occurrence to meet delivery drivers when leaving the car park. We are going out for a walk, and [Daughter] is in one of her make-friends-with-everybody moods.)

Daughter: *to everyone and everything* “Hiya! Hiya!”

Delivery Driver: *turns around as he’s carrying a load into the shop* “Hiya! How are you?”

Daughter: “Hiya!”

Delivery Driver: “Hiya!” *brings load inside*

Daughter: *to shop owner* “Hiya!”

Owner: *looks up* “Hello.”

Daughter: “Hiya!”

(The driver comes back out.)

Delivery Driver: “Hiya! You’re a chatty wee one, aren’t you?”

Me: “Oh, yeah. She’s friends with everyone in the world!”

Delivery Driver: “Ah, I wonder where she gets that from?”

Me: *laughing* “Me, too!”

(We keep walking, and we get to a corner at a bottleneck when a delivery truck stops.)

Delivery Driver: “Hiya!”

Daughter: *silent, but she recognises him so she smiles*

Delivery Driver: “Ahh, are we all shy, now?”

Me: “Yep, when you talk to her first, she’s quiet. She wouldn’t stop talking up until now!”

Driver: “Ah, that’s okay. Come here!” *he holds up a lollipop* “I got two of these; here you go!”

Me: “Oh, wow! Say, ‘Thank you,’ [Daughter]!”

(I lift her up to the door to take it.)

Me: “Thank you so much!”

Daughter: “Hiya!”

Driver: “Hiya! You’re a great girl! You be good for your mammy, now!”

Daughter: *waves* “Bye bye!”

(This isn’t as rare of an occurrence as you’d think; she is literally friends with everyone, and strangers often give her things. I’m hoping that I can teach her to be just as generous!)

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Bagpipes Are A Scottish Instrument But Welcome To All

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 5, 2017

(I am out and about in town when I hear someone talking loudly. I turn down the high street and there is a man stood on the steps of a monument, addressing the people. I stop to listen and slowly realise the man is making racist remarks about Muslims, saying that they should leave and other rubbish. I am dumbfounded, and can see from looking around that others are either pointedly ignoring him or throwing him nasty looks. I opt to just ignore him and move on. That’s when I hear a familiar but faintly annoying noise. I stop to look and sure enough, a young lad, probably around 15, comes into view playing the bagpipes. Other people stop and stare as this teenager walks down the street towards that man. The boy gets up next to him and continues, completely drowning out the man. The man gets annoyed and moves. The lad follows, playing away.)

Man: *yelling* “It’s my right to speak my mind!”

Boy: *stops playing and retorts* “And it’s my right to play the bagpipes in a public space!”

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