There are two acts of kindness I will never forget. Both happened many years ago.
The first was when I was 17. I had been to college all day, had got the bus back to the next village to mine, and I was driving my lovely ancient Ford Fiesta through the country lanes back to my village.
It had been a wet, stormy day; the rain was torrential – it had been hammering down pretty much all day, so the roads were pretty bad. Lots of surface water, and some massive puddles and overflowing ditches.
I’ve always been a fairly sensible driver, so I was taking it slow, although I was very aware that the bus had been late and I would be late for a babysitting job if I wasn’t careful. With that in my mind I drive round a bend and came to stretch of badly flooded road. It went on for about 15 metres, and was over a foot deep in some places.
I pulled over onto the verge to think it through. If I kept going I would be home within 5 minutes. If I turned around and found a better road then I would be about 25 minutes and definitely late for work. While I sat there three cars went through with no problems, so I decided to go forward. I figured if I kept my revs high and kept moving slowly I would be ok.
I made it almost three quarters of the way through. And then the engine stalled. I just sat there. No way of calling anyone for help – my only option was to get out and walk. As I sat there getting more and more upset with myself a few cars passed me. The fourth car stopped next to me. I couldn’t believe my luck, they had stopped and were opening their window to offer assistance! I wound down my window and the person in the car shouted across to me “Don’t worry, I’m sure someone will come and help you soon”. And off they drove.
I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I thought I was going to be helped, not patronised. That was it: the tears really came. As I sat sobbing over the steering wheel I realised a man had parked his car behind mine. He got out, and started walking to my window.
He wasn’t wearing a coat and he only had trainers on – and the rain was still relentless, but he walked through the “lake” to my car. He told me to pop the bonnet, so I did. After a couple of minutes he told me to try starting it. I did, and it started on the first try.
I tried asking him to follow me home so I could give him something for his trouble, but he just smiled and said he was happy he could help.
The second act of kindness happened when I was 18. I was working in a cafe and was having a pretty awful day, although looking back it was more “First World Problems” than anything serious.
I had had a huge row with my boyfriend. We were living together and it wasn’t working.
And something happened on the way to work that will sound really stupid to most people but it really upset me.
I was driving through the city when I got caught in traffic not far from where I worked. I crawled along with the rest of the drivers for a bit when I noticed a baby bird near the verge. As I got closer I realised its mum/dad/whoever had just been run over. It just stood there, bouncing from one side to the other of the dead bird. I watched it for what seemed like ages. It didn’t seem capable of flying to safety but there was nothing I could do. The traffic cleared and I drove to work but couldn’t stop thinking about the poor bird, who would have undoubtedly been run over too before long.
When I got to work I had to sit in the car for a while to calm myself down. Just writing it now has brought tears to my eyes – back then I was a mess.
So anyway, I went in to work and start my shift. I’m not one to bring problems to work but one customer, a lovely old gentleman, could see I was upset. We didn’t talk about it, he just knew. When he had finished his coffee he left, but five minutes later he was back with a bunch of flowers for me. He said “you looked like you needed them”. He said to tell everyone my Uncle Frank gave them to me.
I never saw either of those two men again, but both touched my life and will never be forgotton.