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Little Old Ladies, Big Old Heart

, | Japan | Kind Strangers, Non-Dialogue, Travel

I had to go to immigration to renew my visa as I’m a foreigner living in Japan. Once I reach the bus stop a little old lady is there. She asks me something but I don’t understand. Next thing I know she is offering me wrapped candies. I refuse, politely. Suddenly she is putting her hand, and the candies, into my jacket pocket. Okay, lady, arigato.

Later I stop at a restaurant for lunch. In Japan, sometimes you are expected to pour water for yourself. The little old lady seated next me gets up to get herself some water but offers the cup to me instead.

Thank you, little old ladies, for your kindness towards a foreigner.

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Homeless Is Where The Heart Is, Part 7

| Phoenix, AZ, USA | Pay It Forward

(I am traveling by bus to downtown Phoenix, and miss my connecting bus by about one minute. That means another 29 minutes until the next bus comes along, so I go into the convenience store on the corner to get a drink because it’s an exceedingly hot day. As I am waiting on line to pay for my drink, an obviously homeless man stepped into the store.)

Homeless Man: “Excuse me, but do you take food stamps?”

Cashier: “Sorry, but we don’t.”

Homeless Man: *dejected* “Oh…Okay.”

(I pay for my drink and step outside to find the homeless man simply standing there.)

Me: “Hey… What were you hoping to buy with your food stamps in there?”

Homeless Man: “I was hoping to get a hot dog or something, ‘cause I’m really hungry and haven’t eaten in a couple of days.”

Me: “Well, the first thing you should know is that you can’t buy prepared food with food stamps. The second thing I’m just willing to share, and that’s that I was once homeless myself. That brings us to the third thing, and it’s that I want you to go inside and grab two hot dogs and a drink, because it’s REALLY hot out here. Water would probably be best.”

(We go inside and he gets himself all of the food I suggested. I pay for all of it, which amounted to under $4.00.)

Homeless Man: “Thank you SO much. I’m not used to people being this kind.”

Me: “Oh, this wasn’t free.”

Homeless Man: *worriedly* “It wasn’t?”

Me: “I have only one requirement. The next time you run into someone that needs help, and you can actually help them, do so.”

Homeless Man: *smiling* “You got it.”

(I left him to his inexpensive meal, and hope that he paid it forward eventually.)

Related:
Homeless Is Where The Heart Is, Part 6
Homeless Is Where The Heart Is, Part 5
Homeless Is Where The Heart Is, Part 4

Kind Strangers Kindness

A Dog-Gone Coincidence

| Finland | Kind Strangers

(It’s a nice summer day so my best friend and I are in a park having a picnic. A few metres from us sits a small family with a clear foreign background. The child, a little girl, seems very curious and adventurous and comes to us at some point. She doesn’t speak Finnish at all but after getting an okay nod from her parents, we give her a piece from our pastries and she seems happy with it. After a few minutes she notices a person walking their dog to go by and starts going towards them, not listening to her parents calling her back. She’s clearly too young to understand this, but I can see that the dog is clearly uncomfortable and the owner is trying to steer away before the girl runs too close. My guess would be the dog didn’t like strangers and could bite if it felt threatened. The girl is too far away for her parents to react on time so my friend and I stand up and my friend hurries to pick up the girl before she reaches the dog. The parents come to us and while only the father speaks any Finnish at all, they both are clearly thankful and ask to take a quick picture of us together as a memory. At this point rainfall forces everyone to part ways. Fast forward five months and I’m with my friend in the area where her boyfriend used to live because in his opinion the best pizza in town is served there and he misses it so my friend thought she’d surprise him with one. We order, sit down to wait, and once the man behind the counter delivers the pizza:)

Man: *to my friend in slightly clumsy Finnish* “I have seen you, haven’t I, miss?”

Friend: “Oh, I don’t know. I used to come here every now and again when my boyfriend lived here, but…”

Man: “No, no. It was close to the stadium. You met my daughter.”

Friend: *confused*

Man: *turns to me* “You were there, too, weren’t you?”

Me: *at this point I finally connect the dots and realise why the man had indeed looked familiar* “Oh. Oh! Last summer in the park?”

Man: *smiles widely*

Friend: *the realisation dawns and she absolutely starts beaming*

(We stayed a few minutes to chat and ask how his daughter was doing before we had to leave to catch a bus. He hugged both of us with a heartfelt smile and we promised to come back again. The sheer amount of random luck of that encounter made us laugh, but at the same time it left us smiling for the rest of the day. Even though that pizza place is almost on the other side of town, we definitely plan on going back there soon.)

Kindness Is The Best Therapy

| FL, USA | Kind Strangers, Non-Dialogue, Transportation

My son is three. I have to take two buses every Tuesday to get my son to therapy, and then take two buses back. This day he is not in a good mood, and he has already had one meltdown. While trying to calm him down, I end up getting my face scratched, and he ends up having another meltdown during therapy. By the time his three hours are up I put him in the stroller to walk to catch the bus. While waiting for the bus, my son starts crying, so I pick him up and he passes out cold.

A man approaches; I smile and nod. We don’t really say anything to each other. The bus pulls up. As I go to step onto the bus, carrying my sleeping child, the bag, and the stroller, my legs start to go out from underneath me. The bus driver jumps up and grabs my son; the man behind me grabs my arm to help me.

I thank them both, as I take my son back and make my way to the seat. The other man sits across from me. As we reach the first stop my son is up and able to walk onto the other bus.

When we finally get to the last stop, a woman reaches over and takes my hand and says “Please, let me carry this for you.” I smile. After we get off the bus, she gives me a hug and says good luck, and walks off.

It may not seem like much, but the simple kindness showed to me and my child that day meant the world to me.

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Breakfast Breaking Through

| Portland, OR, USA | At The Checkout, Awesome, Employees, Non-Dialogue

Since I got my current job a little over a year ago, I’ve gone through a particular fast food restaurant’s drive-thru to pick up breakfast every week or two. I love this particular store because they are very friendly, so much so that even though I’m not there all that often they all know my name and my regular order. In the same period of time, I have been rear ended twice on the freeway I have to use to commute to work. In the worst accident my car was totaled and I suffered injuries that, while not life threatening, have had a permanent effect on my quality of life. As a result, I find commuting in bad traffic very stressful.

This particular morning, it is raining hard and there are a number of accidents along the way which makes the commute particularly bad. I decide to stop and get a hot breakfast to try and help myself relax. The woman working the drive-thru recognizes me as I give her my order. I drive to the pick-up window and start to hand her my payment as usual, but she shakes her head and hands me my food. To my shock, she told me that she was sure the morning commute had been particularly stressful for me with all the accidents, and my breakfast was on her this morning!

Her kind gesture literally brought tears to my eyes. The fact that she had noticed my stress and cared enough to try and turn the day around really made me feel terrific!

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