Gratitude For The Kindness Of Strangers...
--by sonrisa, posted May 23, 2007
As I was walking along the river this evening, enjoying some hot chocolate with the sun shining down on me on this nice spring day, I was in the mood to do something nice for a stranger and started to look around for an opportunity to do a random act of kindness. Two minutes later I was approached from across the pathway by a complete stranger. I wasn't sure why he was approaching me, when from out of nowhere he started talking to me really aggressively and harrassing me. I could tell he was probably drunk or high or who-knows-what so I just stayed calm and kept walking ahead. There were hundreds of people sitting on benches nearby and walking along the South Bank with me, so I wasn't really worried.
As I tried to walk along he kept saying offensive things to me and trying to get my attention. I tried to change my course and he kept following me, coming closer each time, and just wouldn't leave me alone. At one point, he literally cornered me near the rail next to the river at which point I got really scared and didn't know what to do. Although there were people everywhere, I got worried that the bystander effect might kick in and nobody would do anything about what they were seeing. I was praying that one of the many people sitting on benches nearby who could hear everything and watched this whole episode unfold would be courageous enough to help me out of this situation.
Seconds later, a couple, probably my parents age, passed by me and had seen everything happen. Just when I felt really helpless, the lady came along, linked her arm into mine and said "Darling, why don't you come with us," and started walking me away from this guy. Her husband then stayed between us and the guy and gestured for him to carry on walking in the other direction. The guy started swearing and getting angry, while this sweet lady was comforting me, saying don't worry. Finally, once he left, she said, "Why don't you carry on walking where you were going and we'll make sure he goes the other way and leaves you alone." As I rushed away, I was shaken up, but at the same time had feelings of immense gratitude for this random couple who reached out to me and decided to do something about what they were seeing. Here I was, thinking I was on a mission to do a random act of kindness, when instead, I ended up on the receiving end. I guess it is equally important to learn how to receive and to feel gratitude for the kindness of others.