12 September 2013

The Kindness of Strangers and Friends

Tuesday evening brought some unexpected adventure to a routine evening; but it was one that makes me very thankful for the kindness of total strangers and the kindness and patience of friends.

On a normal Tuesday evening I ride my bike to my language school to teach an English lesson and take a Dutch lesson. By bike the trip usually takes the same amount of time as the bus, but I don't have to rely on the bus schedule - I can just go when I'm ready without rushing to the stop or waiting for the stop. But since fall came up suddenly and it brought the rains with it, regular heavy rain fell all day on Tuesday, I decided I should ride the bus rather than show up drenched and windblown.

This was a perfectly reasonable plan and the trip went as expected... until I left my phone on the bus. I checked the phone just before stop and then thought I tossed it into my bag, but I guess I dropped it onto the seat. I jumped off the bus and made it about four steps before doing a regular obsessive pocket check and found no phone. And there was no phone in the bag. Crap.

Cue dramatic music: Dun dun dun...

I ran to the language school, but forgot that since the main office was closed I couldn't get to a land line to call my own mobile. It was at this point that I realized how I rely on this little chunk of technology for so many different functions: Phone, e-mail, social networks, translator, map, schedule for bus and train, camera, watching cat videos. You name it, this phone can probably do it or tell you how to do it. It was a little discouraging to come to this conclusion 5 minutes after losing the phone - so I had to stop and think, what would I have done a year ago before I had a smart phone?

I was able to log onto a computer and sent Mark some frantic emails and G-chats asking him to call my phone before my student arrived (acutely aware that I was still relying heavily on technology to solve this problem). After my student left I found messages from Mark saying that someone actually picked up when he called. It turned out to be the bus driver, who is a really stand up guy. Though his shift was over, he was willing to wait for me at the station in city center to pick it up. And since I had no other way to get there, my amazingly kind Dutch instructor drove me to the station, and then stayed later than normal to give me a full lesson.

I'm VERY fortunate. Someone could have easily nicked the phone off the seat. The driver could have taken the phone or dumped it someplace else. He could have gone directly home at the end of his shift. My Dutch instructor didn't have to offer the ride or continue to stay late for me to have a regular lesson after. And, of course, I have a wonderful husband who has patience for my idiotic shenanigans and helps me solve them.

Despite the situation, it turned out as well as I could have hoped. I didn't catch the name of the driver and I don't know if I'll come across him again on the same bus line, but I hope I expressed my thanks well enough - because I am still very grateful to everyone that helped me. It's a blessing to receive that kind of kindness from strangers and friends at the same time.

Have you experienced a great, random act of kindness from a stranger or a friend? Have you experienced great kindness in another language?


  1. That is so wonderful you were able to retrieve the phone and it is so reassuring to know how many really wonderful people are out there!

  2. I agree! Fortunate for me that I was surrounded by so many at the same time. Situations like that definitely remind you to pay it forward.

  3. What a tops bunch of people. It's so nice to know the entire world isn't fill of crazies. Now your turn to do a good deed. Perhaps sending money in the mail to your fav Croatian reader??

  4. It's great to know there are good folks out there. As for paying it forward, I've got a shiny new stack of Monopoly money for you. Those bits are always getting lost from the set, and they come $10,000 bills! ;)


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