As a traveler, I have been experiencing trust and kindness from strangers. One recent experience I had was related to my preparation to visit the USA, my current host country. It happened last year and without the strangers’ help, I would not get my USA visa on time.
The US Consulate Office in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) does not allow visitors with their electronic devices to enter its office: no mobile phone, laptop, camera, etc. allowed inside the Consulate. Guess what, I had a cell phone and camera with me. I wished I drove to Amsterdam so that I would have put my electronic devices in my car. Bad luck, on that day, I chose to take the train instead. The fault was mine too; I did not read the policy of the US Consulate in Amsterdam carefully. I was not the only one who did not aware of this as there were six of us or perhaps more. I forgot the details. We just gathered, confused, not knowing what to do. It crossed my mind that one of us should take care of our electronic belongings while the rest can go inside until the visa business sorted, then they can take over the caretaker task. I talked to a friendly lady, a medical student who planned to continue her study in the USA, and she thought of a similar idea. She told to the rest of the group, and I volunteered to be the first caretaker. One person said that she would like to company me – so kind of her – but then we realized her appointment time was earlier than me, her appointment would be automatically canceled after one hour late. She had to enter the consulate as soon as possible and I was left alone outside with several mobile phones and laptops. They trust me, and I trust them.
About half an hour or more waiting, another lady arrived and rejected to enter the Consulate for the similar reason. After listening to my story, she volunteered to replace my place. I was almost due to one hour late for my appointment. But, it sounded irresponsible to pass on my responsibility to another stranger. But.., was it my turn to trust a stranger for her kind offer? I decided to ignore the “what if..” thoughts and accepted her offer. When I met the rest of the group inside the Consulate, I told them that someone took over the task. They did not mind and promised to replace her once their appointment was completed. And that’s how it happened. The mission rolled out well; all of us made it to our appointment on time, and no one lost electronic devices during the guard.
This week, I saw another kindness act from some residents in Minneapolis (USA) who support #bundleupMN activity. I did not know this until I found colorful knitted shawls, winter gloves, and hats on the benches and trees at the park where I usually walked my dog. The idea was to keep the residents safe and warm during the winter days. From the Instagram of the event’s initiator explained as following: “Why on the trees and benches? Because asking for help can be incredibly hard. We’re not asking anyone to prove how much they make a year or why they deserve a scarf. We’re not asking any questions at all. Our intention is to leave warm hats and scarves out in a popular park so that anyone who needs a scarf can take a scarf and do so privately if they wish. All donated items will have a friendly note attached that says “I’m free! Take me and stay warm”. Please help us bring warmth & joy to those who need it.” (@knitteapolis). More about their action, please do visit or support their Instagrams: @knitteapolis and @thespreadsunshinegang.
Seeing the work and their message left on the tree and benches at the park already giving me a warm feeling in the cold winter. It’s a simple thing, but it was a thoughtful thing to do: to care about others, the strangers whom might be in need during the cold winter. I am sure their kindness have helped those who were in need for the warmth.
One thing I have learned, it takes trust to do kindness act and to accept a stranger’s kindness offer. Sometimes it was not easy after the news we have heard and read from the media. The negative world news had made us reluctant to easily trust someone’s genuine offers and even worse: to be kind to others who are strangers to us.
Have you experienced help offers from a stranger? Did you accept it? Would you help a stranger in need?
Happy Valentine’s Day where ever you are ❤