There I was, sat on a packed Piccadilly tube train at the height of rush hour. All of a sudden as I looked down, I saw an A4 brown envelope wedged between my leg and the glass partition. It contained what looked like important documents. On closer inspection, there were some travel papers including flight tickets. The person who had just vacated the seat, was now long gone but their envelope remained behind. I turned to the passenger next to me and queried what they thought should be done?
Their reply was “just leave them there. It’s nothing to do with us.”
But the tickets were for a flight that was due to leave the UK that same week. I could have ignored it, but I wanted to help. In the moment before I arrived at my destination, I put myself in that person’s shoes. How would I feel if I had left those documents containing my name, email and flight tickets on the tube?
So I took those documents, and when I was home I contacted them, to let them know that everything was in safe hands. We arranged to meet at my workplace and I handed everything over. It was a small act of kindness, which was met with overwhelming gratitude. Did I realise what I had done? And I was “an angel”. I wouldn’t have gone that far, but it struck me, that whilst I had taken this path, others wouldn’t have done.
They would have kept their heads down, denied knowledge of the envelope’s existence, and not reached out to help that person as I had done. But if we opt for the former, what is the message we’re passing on to future generations?
My efforts made little to no difference to me, but changed someone’s day in a way that was unimaginable to them. His smile when he met me, said it all. And I have to say, it made me feel good and also put a smile on my face too.
Doing something unselfishly for someone else felt like the right thing to do. I believe that kindness can be addictive. Once you start reaching out to people, you realise how rewarding it can be. A simple smile as someone goes about their day can have an incredible impact.
Go on, try it. As this Sunday is World Kindness Day, why not use this occasion as an excuse to look up from your book, to see what is going on around you, and just smile at someone. It is a way of saying hello and reaching out. Who knows what type of day that person has had, or what reaction you will get? You may well be pleasantly surprised.
I have been heartened by the news of 4 year-old Norah Woods in the US, who reached out to an elderly gentleman whilst grocery shopping with her mum on her birthday. It’s funny how uninhibited we are as children, but as adults we become so wary of letting anyone know what we’re thinking, or are able to act in the same way.
As a result of Norah’s inhibition and her reaching out to Mr Dan, she and her mum now visit the recently widowed pensioner on a weekly basis. That simple act of saying “hello, it’s my fourth birthday today”, has made a world of difference to both of them.
So as we approach World Kindness Day, let’s use Norah’s example as a way to reach out to each other, to not be afraid of the consequences. Help that little old lady who is struggling with her shopping, smile at the taxi driver, or just be kind to someone you know. But most of all, let’s try and extend being kind to someone, every day of the year. We’re all here together, and wouldn’t it be much better if we can have a child’s eye view of the world and simply spread some happiness?