Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes we think that "the world" isn't so good anymore. And certainly there's ample evidence of that. But every now and again, something happens to remind you that this isn't always true. Within the past three weeks or so, I've seen or experienced that evidence for myself.

One night I was sitting in my living room reading and listening to music when there was a knock on my door. As it's rare that this happens without my knowing it was coming, I was a little hesitant to go to the door. I opened it a crack to see a man I did not know standing there. When I asked how I could help him, he handed cell phone to me and said he'd found it in the parking lot, had called a number that just "happened" to be my sister and she told him which apartment was mine. I did not even know I was missing my phone, but was, of course, glad to get it back. I thanked the man and closed my door, only later thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong in that scenario, but thankful for the kindness of this stranger.

A week or so ago, I saw an unknown man at the front door of the school. As we are always on lock-down, I had to go see who he was and what he wanted. He had found a cell phone on the Boston subway (the "T") and, through a series of random calls, found out that it belonged to one of our students. Turns out this man had actually gone to our school when he was (much) younger so knew exactly where to bring it. He chose to go late to work so he could bring the phone to our student, knowing how important such a tool is for young people traveling alone on the train these days. Again, we were surprised and thankful for the kindness of what turned out not to be a stranger in the long run.

A few days ago, I checked the school's e-mail account, something I do about twice a week (mostly because we get more junk than anything else). As I was reading through the subject headings, I noticed one that said "Your student?" so of course I opened it to see what that could be about. The writer had been riding the "T" and had noticed an abandoned backpack. He opened it and looked through the books until he found a name and our school's name. When he got to work, he googled our school, found the e-mail address and wrote asking if we had such a student. He left his phone number and asked if the student could call him to reclaim the backpack. This stranger (he worked at Harvard University) risked a lot to open that backpack. There could have been any number of problems in doing so, not the least of which could have been a bomb. Instead of leaving it alone (or even turning it in to authorities), he chose to see how he could help. The kindness of this stranger was greatly appreciated by the senior to whom the backpack belonged.

Just yesterday, another stranger stood at the front door...with a cell phone in his hand. He had found it in a parking lot, and figured out that it belonged to our 8th grade teacher, who never knew it was missing until it was returned... Yet another kind stranger...in a not-so-unkind-world after all!

6 comments:

Inland Empire Girl said...

I agree with you... we do have to trust the kindness of strangers sometimes. About this time last year kind strangers helped me out of the ditch on the road north of my house.

mon@rch said...

I try to help people whenever I can and very greatful when some stranger helps me! Pay it forward!

Kathryn said...

Most people really are good-hearted and desire to help.

Yolanda said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly

Britt-Arnhild said...

There are a few angels around.....

Shawn Brace said...

It seems as though you should have an assembly where you teach your students how to keep track of their cell phones! Of course, you would be preaching to yourself as well!

It is nice to hear about kindnesses, though!