A wonderful act of kindness – and its sequel

 I thought I’d tell you today about a random act of kindness. And what followed.

My photo of a ‘Matangi’ commuter unit in the Wellington railway yards.

The other evening I took the train from Wellington to the Hutt Valley. A woman a few seats up proffered a 10-click concession ticket to the conductor. He shook his head. ‘All the clips are used, but I can sell you a ticket’. At that moment a fellow sitting behind the woman proffered his own ticket. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘take one of these. ‘ With typical Kiwi self-deprecation he added, ‘I needed to use them up anyway.’

The exchange was done. Did the woman thank him? No. Not even – given her prominent Dutch accent – with a ‘dankuveel’? Nothing. He got off at the next station. She didn’t acknowledge him. I got off at the stop after, reflecting how in a few minutes I had seen a complete demonstration of a big slab of the human condition.

For the guy who offered the ticket, I suspect the fact of making the offer was reward enough. But hey – it’s courteous to say thank you… isn’t it.

Has anyone been randomly kind to you lately? Have you ever been randomly kind to a stranger? Any thoughts? Talk to me!

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012, see terms below.

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12 comments on “A wonderful act of kindness – and its sequel

  1. Bev Robitai says:

    Actually, yes. I was ten cents short for the parking meter and was about to sigh heavily and enter my credit card when a complete stranger gave me a 20c coin to make up the difference. Not a kindly older gent as you might expect, or a bloke hoping to score Brownie points by helping out a woman, but a young Chinese student with his girlfriend. And yes, I did thank him most sincerely.

    • That was a good experience. Yeah, it’s actually quite possible the woman I saw on the train didn’t respond to the bloke further because of that potential subtext. Being human is complex.

  2. stuartart says:

    I’m sure it was reward enough although only the really enlightened would not have felt a little sting from the lack of acknowledgement. Random acts of kindness should be part and probably are part of most of our days – consider how many times you’ve ever held the door for someone, or stood aside in a narrow passage. They’re small examples but let’s build on them as they’re part of our every day behaviour already. :)

  3. Now, I have more than a spot of Dutch blood in me and I would have said thanks.

    Nice story. Appreciation in a failing philosophy, but I pray kindness never is.

    Best,

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

  4. ljclayton says:

    My sister had her purse stolen at Victoria station. A woman on the tube who overheard her telling me about it offered her a ten pound note to make up for it. My sister didn’t take it but we were so touched by this stranger’s kindness, we forgot about being robbed.

  5. Kerry Dwyer says:

    I really wanted to reply because it is a good story. However after racking my brain I can’t think of an act of random kindness that has come my way. Now I feel a little dejected.

  6. Karen Rought says:

    This is one of my rules in life: go out of your way for complete strangers. I don’t know why I feel the need to do it, but it just makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling and saying hello to someone. Other times, it’s about holding the door or offering someone your shopping cart. I’m a helpful and overachieving person by nature, and sometimes it comes off as a little too enthusiastic (especially on the internet when you can’t gauge people’s motivations behind their actions). But I truly like helping people. Reading things like the story above makes me smile (though I do think she should’ve said thank you!). Thanks for sharing.

  7. Kindness cannot be faulted – and it is, I think, always better to be seen as over enthusiastic about it than not!

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