Stories of Kindness from Around the World

An Opportunity To Connect On The Train Home

--by wayfarer, posted Sep 22, 2010

Sitting on the train home with my wife, Julie, my attention kept being drawn to the young man sitting across the aisle from us. I knew there was something there I ought to be seeing – but what was it?

I read my book and glanced over, I drank some juice and glanced over, I put my earphones in - and glanced over. What wasn’t I seeing?

He must have been about seventeen or eighteen, a handsome young man, sitting there with his bags on the seat across from him. It wasn’t a particularly cold day but he had his jacket zipped up all the way to his mouth.  But my own boys would do that.

Between Edinburgh and Motherwell the picture started to take shape and the spaces started to fill themselves. His face was red, as if he had been really cold. When his hands came out his pockets they were red too, but they were also cracked, cut and dirty. When he turned to look at the scenery I noticed his face, hardly old enough for real stubble, was shaved and clean, but from his jaw line and back his neck was black.

It was as if he’d recently scrubbed a dirty face clean with cold water.

Looking down I saw shoes I wouldn’t give to a charity shop and noticed he was wearing at least two pairs of socks, none of which matched.

Half way through the journey he dug into his pocket and carefully counted out his money. It was all in loose change.

As the train approached his stop he stood up to organise himself. I noticed that his bags were a sleeping back and a small rucksack. His clothes were pushing out of the rucksack through a burst zip.

All through the trip I had wanted to talk to this guy but didn’t know why. How do you do that without embarrassing or being embarrassing? But I reckoned I had enough of the picture now.

“Mate,” I said (from my comfortable seat, with money in my pocket, coming back from an enjoyable trip away, and all I needed around me,) “are you okay.”

A little surprised to be spoken to he said, “Yes,” but his expression said, “Why are you asking?”

 “Because you look like you’ve been having a hard time.” There. I was verging on being rude but didn’t know what else to say.

 “Ah,” he said, “I’m just worried. I’m going to see my mum and I haven’t seen her for a while.

Worried about going to see his mum?

“For about two years,” he added. Two years during which he’d been sleeping on the street and begging for spare change, I guessed. What had caused that and what had brought about this worrying reconciliation? It didn’t matter. All I knew was he was heading in the right direction.

“Good man,” I said with my most encouraging smile. “Have you got everything you need?”

I meant money, but he said he was fine.

I wished him luck and watched him leave the train. As he headed off to meet his mum I closed my eyes and sent up a prayer that love would be waiting for him.

Why did I feel tears well up as I prayed? Maybe because I empathised on a deeper lever; maybe because we are all lost boys and girls trying to find our way home. And we all hope Love is waiting for us.


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Readers Comments

Emmie wrote: Your story brought tears to my eyes. I bet that young man really appreciated that you took the time to talk to him. You sound like a very kind person.
iferlamb wrote: This is a beautiful post! It was so compassionate of you to try and help this young man. Thank you for sharing.

lindsgran wrote: This story brings a tear to a Mum who has a loving family, but remembers when one of them was just like this young man, lost and to ashamed to come home, then a very special person, called David, brought him back to his Mum, who was waiting with loving arms for him, Hope this young mans Mother has enough love in her heart to welcome her son back no matter what he has done
madeusmile wrote: Wow! Beautifully written. Perhaps your prayer was what he needed most!
JuneBug wrote: Care to stare...There's always a reason. Not necesarily to be rude, but to wonder what people are made of. I pray the lad found love waiting with open arms. If not there, with Jesus.. :)
Aurelia wrote: You are so kind Wayfarer. What a touching story. One of the best ways to help a homeless person is to show them respect. As you stared into his eyes and talked to him, you showed him you care. Thank You for recognizing him as an individualand for giving him a sense of dignity I am sure he rarely experiences. I can picture you in silent prayer as he was on his way to be reunited with his mum. BEAUTIFUL!
hereismatt wrote: A gentle word is all it takes sometimes to let someone know that someone else cares. Often, as well, just a nod is enough. And yet sometimes, the words not spoken mean more than any words that anyone can pen... His surprise that you had asked, sounds like it was the right word at the right time. The words you said in your prayer, I am sure, did more help than anything you could have said to the young man.
heartofflesh wrote: You looked at him with love & compassion and that doesn't amount to staring.I sincerely hope and believe he made peace with his mother and perhaps she hugged him and said " It is okay I am not angry with you anymore " or something like that.Thank you for the post!
Bluebell wrote: Why did you have tears in your eyes ... because your heart is pure love and compassion. Bless are those who cross your way. Love and Light and a Thousand Smiles, Bluebell
peanut wrote: I think he was kind of suprised that you asked if he was alright.That was compassion from deep down in your heart.The prayer was the best.

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