The Kindness of Strangers

After yesterday’s post, you may be thinking I’m one of those Angry Women Who Hates Everything. And while it’s true that I do get angry when it comes to the awful things that occur in the world (and while it may also be true that last weekend I suggested to someone that people in general are horrible and we should just start all over again with something else, perhaps penguins), I actually think most people are good and will be kind and helpful if given half a chance.
When you’re on the road, particularly when you’re alone and in a place where you’re very much the outsider (don’t know the language, don’t know your way around), you have to rely, as they say, on the kindness of strangers. And basically every single time, strangers will be kind. I don’t have any huge, over-the-top examples of this, like someone buying me a plane ticket or letting me stay in their home, although I know these things happen. My favorite examples, really, are the small ones, the everyday sort of things that one person quietly does for another just because we’re both here and we’re both human and we both will need a little help from time to time.
The woman who swiped her own transit card for me on the Istanbul bus because it didn’t take the tokens or cash I had. The shopkeeper who rushed to my aid and offered me tea when I crashed my bike in Amsterdam. The bartender who gave us free juice in Puerto Vallarta when my companion was clearly too far gone for any more tequila. The couple in Portland who gave me a tip on the best sandwich in town. These aren’t big deals. But they add up to a picture of a world in which, more often than not, one human being will do something nice for another human being just because, with no expectation of any reward other than that sort of glow-y, good-travel-karma feeling you get when you do the right thing.