Category: Kind Strangers

Found More Than Just Your Bag

| The Netherlands | Kind Strangers, Transportation

A few months ago I was returning to university by train after a weekend visit to my parents. I’m travelling alone and just read and listen to my mp3-player during the trip, my luggage being a suitcase and a shoulder bag. I have to switch trains two times, and the second switch is when disaster strikes.

As soon as I sit down in the third train, I realize I do not have my shoulder bag, and in a panic jump up, grab my suitcase, and sprint back to my previous train.

I manage to jump in right before the doors close, and quickly walk back to the place I was sitting in, hoping to find my bag. It’s not there, so I ask people sitting nearby if they have seen it. They haven’t. Literally my everything is in that bag: my cellphone, my house keys, my wallet, my ID, my day planner, and maybe most importantly a scarf that used to belong to my mother, who passed away when I was 10, that I always carry with me. All I have now is a suitcase full of clothes and toiletries, my mp3-player, and my Public Transportation pass.

A passenger advises me to ask the train conductor, and I go find him, but when I explain to him what happens, I break down. I’ve never been good with stress and am very emotional;  ever since I was a little kid I would break out in tears when stressed or confronted. I’ve been chastised for this many times by relatives, teachers, and other adults, and bullied about it by age mates.

Recently I’ve been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and now I know that’s where the tears come from, but I still feel like an immature idiot when I can’t keep it together in seemingly minor situations. But I just can’t keep the tears in, no matter how hard I try. At this point, I’m choking up, trembling, my legs feel about to give out, there are tears running down my cheeks, I have trouble getting my story out, feel about to throw up, and generally feel like I am making a complete fool of myself.

The conductor, however, stays completely calm and friendly, telling me to take deep breaths and gently puts a hand on my shoulder to steady me. Thanks to his soothing demeanor, I manage to finally tell my story. He tells me he just got on the train himself, and nobody had turned in a found bag with him, but he calls lost and found at the station we just left to ask if someone turned in my bag there. Unfortunately, no-one has. He then helps me to fill in a lost possessions form over the phone, and even though I still can’t stop the tears, the man on the phone is very calm and friendly.

When he is finished taking my information and I’ve handed the conductor his phone back, the conductor calms me down further, helps me clamp down on my panic at not knowing what to do, and helps me figure out a plan. He advises me to go back to the station where I got on, since I had to wait there and might have left my bag on a bench, and ask their lost and found. He also adds a bit of reassurance that my bag might have been turned in at the station we just left, but hasn’t been processed yet.

A little calmer, I sit down and the conductor proceeds to help another passenger, but hovers close in case I need anything else. When we get back to the station where I got on, he wishes me luck and I thank him and jump off. I make a beeline for lost and found, and explain to them what happened, but again the tears start flowing. Again, I feel like a fool. But again, I am only met with kindness. The women behind the desk calm me down and help me out.

They haven’t found my bag, but one of them offers me her phone and suggests I call my dad to let him know what’s happening. I call him and make a plan to go back to the station where I first missed my bag and ask lost and found again, and if it’s not there ask to borrow a phone, call him again, and figure out a way to get back to his house, since I won’t be able to get into my apartment without my keys unless my flat-mate is home, which is probably not the case.

When I hand the lady behind the desk her phone back, she gives me some tissues and a bottle of water and wishes me luck.

I take another train, still too stressed to even listen to my mp3-player. At the station where everything started, I again make a beeline for lost and found, but find out they’ve already closed for the night — it’s now around nine pm.

Cue the next wave of panic.

I spot a security guard and, out of desperation, ask him if he can help me in any way. He says he can’t leave his post, but he’ll use his radio to find out if someone from lost and found is still around. After some radio-chatter, a lost and found employee, who was about to go home with her daughter, replies and says she’ll come over. She walks up and asks me to describe my bag. I do so and she asks for my name. I give it to her and she says a bag matching my description has been turned in, with identification in it. She asked for my name to see if it matched, and it did.

My bag has been found!

She walks me over to lost and found and brings out my bag, and I just pour out my thanks. She tells me to be more careful in the future, and I can go home, making sure to thank the security guard along the way. When I get home, I am just hit with a wave of gratitude, not just for having my bag back, but also, and even more, for the amazing people that have helped me tonight, going out of their way and definitely beyond their job description.

The conductor that put helping a crying young woman before checking train tickets, the woman who let me borrow her own phone, the security guard who was supposed to be watching out for troublemakers and had every right to turn me away but didn’t, and the employee who was ready to go home after what was no doubt a long day, but still made time for one last person. I wish I could do something to thank all of them, but since I will probably never see them again, I wouldn’t know what.

All I could think of was sharing my story to show that, while people are often complaining about the train system and its employees, those employees also do wonderful things like this.

Kind Strangers Kindness

Tugging On Your Heart Strings, Not Purse Strings

| Los Angeles, CA, USA | Kind Strangers

(I’m going through a rough time, so I take a long walk around the block in the sunshine to think things over. On the sidewalk, a little girl and her father riding bikes approach me, the father on a much smaller bike obviously meant for a young boy. I smile at them and step aside. After reaching the main road near my apartment again, I linger on the corner of the sidewalk on my phone. The same father from before rides up on a scooter with two children in tow.)

Father: “Excuse me, miss? You dropped something.”

(He extends his hand with my wallet in it.)

Me: *flustered* “Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much!”

Father: “No problem. I found it on the ground and I brought it to my wife to show her, and then I saw the picture on your license and recognized you. We were hoping you were still around. Were you looking for it?”

Me: “I didn’t even realize it was missing! Thank you so much! I truly appreciate it.” *I search my purse* “I don’t have any money; I’m so sorry. I wish I could give you something.”

Father: “Don’t worry about it, miss. Have a great day.”

(He smiles and he and his kids ride off. Thank you so much, sir! You truly brought a smile to my face when I needed it — and saved me a huge headache!)

Kind Strangers Kindness

Trafficking In Human Kindness

| France | Kind Strangers, Transportation

I am in my car driving back home from work in an unusual traffic jam for my small city.

As things are taking forever on my lane, I notice a car in the opposite direction blocking the circulation on the opposite side of the street as they are try to cross.

I decide to let them go. I stop, flash my high beams, nothing happens. I start to wonder if everything is ok when the other driver suddenly gets out of his car and runs to the sidewalk to help up an older person who has fallen.

To this gentleman who chose to stay stuck in traffic a bit longer to help another human being, thanks for restoring my faith in humanity.

Kind Strangers Kindness

It Took Some Back And Forth But You Got There

| Yonne, Burgundy, France | Awesome, Kind Strangers

(My mom is eligible in the French charity that distributes food packages to people with low income, so she decides to volunteer to ask for donations in the local supermarket. The charity waits behind the registers with empty shopping carts and ask to people if they want to donate part of their groceries after their purchases. While it’s obviously not an obligation, some people still have rude reactions.)

Child: *stares at my mom*

Mom: *waves*

Child: *to his dad* “Dad, what’s that?” *points at my mom*

Customer #1: *in a huff* “Don’t mind them. That’s for hobos!”

(Later in the morning…)

Mom: “Hi, would you like to donate food for charity?”

Customer #2: *unintelligible grumble*

(Later, beginning of the afternoon, my mother notices an elderly customer at the register, being very slow to get checked out. Once she gathers her groceries in her bag, she proceeds to walk towards the main entrance very slowly, barely walking. She then notices the charity stand.)

Elderly Customer: “Oh…” *looking disappointed*

(She then leaves. My mom sees her barely walking through the parking lot, carrying her groceries. Two hours later, she notices the same slow and elderly lady coming back into the store, this time pushing a shopping cart. They think nothing of it, until they notice one more hour later that she checks out with a cart filled with canned food, bottles of milk, and boxes of eggs. She then pushes the cart towards my mom, smiling…)

Elderly Customer: “Here.”

(Yes. While it was winter, and she was very old and barely walking, she did a round trip from her place back to the supermarket, just to donate a completely filled shopping cart. My mom and the other volunteers thanked her a lot, and the lady only replied with a smile, and then my mom told the other volunteers about her while they watched walk away from the supermarket, again through the parking lot. Thank you for bringing back faith in humanity, unknown nanny!)

Acts Of Kindness Never Re-tires

| Estonia | Kind Strangers, Transportation

I am a young male, having grown up without a father and with no car in the family, so I am not very familiar with how to do anything “under the hood.”

It is early winter. I am driving home from work from the city. It is dark and the weather is bad. Leaving the city I see an older man hitchhiking beside the road. He looks a little bit sketchy in the dark and I am hesitant at first. But due to having hitchhiked a lot before getting myself a car and the weather being really bad, I decide to pick him up. He wants to get to a location more than 20 km further from where I am going but gladly jumps in from the wet and the cold.

About 10 km before the destination the front passenger-side tire breaks with a bang and loud noise like an airplane landing just over the roof. As it is the first time I have ever experienced something like this, I am rather startled but safely stop the car. I am confused as to what should I do next, not exactly sure how to change the tire in the dark, wet, and cold.

Next thing I know, without much thought, the hitchhiker asks me if I have a spare. He jumps out and proceeds to grab the tire and everything else from the trunk, changes the tire himself and puts everything back after finishing. All this in record time and we are ready to continue with the drive.

After getting driving again I feel really grateful and so happy, I decide to pay him the kindness back by driving him the 20 km further he needs to go. On the way I learn he paints cars for a living, which is why he is so familiar with cars and so quick about the tire changing.

To this day I think back with warm feelings about that night because without having him in the car to help me, who knows how long it would have taken me in the dark, cold, and wet weather to figure out how to change the tire for the first time beside that road there.

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