The Kindness of Strangers

Lots of unexpected things can happen when you're traveling, but the thing you nearly always can expect is good and helpful people. We've experienced that a lit in years of travel,  but today was a special example.

We were switching from one city to another, and not only had luggage with us but a wheelchair.

We were waiting outside the apartment where we had been staying, and our taxi had not come. We asked a young couple who were leaving with their van if they could call the taxi company for us, and interpret the automated message. When the taxi operator didn't pick up, they gave us a ride to the station.

At the station, as I struggled with the bags while my wife wheeled herself, a helpful gentleman came along and pushed the chair into the station. Whenit turned out that the elevator to our platform was out of service and I began carrying everything up the steps, a woman came along and helped me carry the chair. As I turned back down the stairs to retrieve the suitcases, a younger man took one while I took the other.

When it came time to get up the steep and narrow steps to the train car, a man motioned to me to get on, and handed up our stuff, piece by piece before heading off to his carriage. At the end of our trip, a conductor wheeled my wife to the end of  the platform.

None of these many kindnesses was a big thing for the givers, but they made a big difference for us, and I reminded myself of the old saying that you cannot pay a good turn back; you can only pay it forward.

And, when it was time to leave the train, after I got our bags and the chair onto the platform, I had my opportunity: an elderly woman, bent and using a stick, was struggling with her suitcase. It was a pleasure to start paying forward!

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