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20 October 2014

thank you, stranger.

random acts of kindness are performed everyday, everywhere. they can be as small as helping an older person cross the road, buying an extra sandwich at lunch for the homeless person on the street, or giving up that precious peak hour seat for the pregnant woman in comfy shoes. at times, they are much bigger, and much more meaningful; some, like being a marrow or blood donor, can mean life changing things to people. so, when the charity anthony nolan asked me to share my personal random acts of kindness in order to promote the life saving work they do, how on earth was i going to say no...

it did get me thinking - hard, too, about the kindness we show strangers in general. i asked my friends for their input and got the standard responses of helping to carry bags down stairs, or giving the tramp dog a cheeseburger or giving the lady in front 50p to use the bathroom at liverpool street, but these things were seen as "not really kind, just... human". which is kind of awesome, right? that we write ourselves off as generous because that behaviour is almost sort of... expected of us now.

in that vein though, what do we actually consider kind? if kindness is a virtue, and seen as "showing a concern for others", yet we dismiss ourselves when we are kind because we consider our actions "human", then what? i had to really think about what i'd done that i would consider kind; a selfless act that i'd be proud to tell people i'd done, and... i'm ashamed to say i pretty much drew a blank. 
that's not to say that i don't have an arsenal of stories about buying lunch for the tramp and his dog that sit by hobbs hog roast at borough market every time i go past there, or single handedly holding a coat drive at work last winter to then pass on to handpicked london and in turn, the thousands of london's homeless, or regularly telling the stupid tourists on the tube that their backpacks are unzipped and they're going to get mugged if they're not careful, but beyond these 'social niceties', i can not think of one exceptional thing i've done for mankind. and this makes me sad.

when i asked my friend nicola, you know what she said? she saved a dying baby in an airport. she just said it like that, so nonchalant, and we were all "wuut gurrrl wuut", and then she told us this story about how she was in the airport at kuala lumpur, coming home from nz at christmas, and this tiny baby started having a seizure and no-one knew what to do. there were no doctors, there were no police, there was no-one else around who knew what to do, and so with her basic first aid training, she gave this tiny human cpr until the paramedics came, and the baby lived... we stared, slack jawed, and she simply said "what, it's not like i'm a hero; anyone would have done it", to which we all replied "incorrect, i have no idea how to do cpr, so no, i wouldn't have done that, you crazy hero person you". 

nicola's story is the kindest thing i can share with you here. that, and this montage of crazy kind things that the good folks over at anthony nolan have put together to pay homage to the kindness of strangers, and to say "thank you, stranger".

tell me, what's the kindest thing you've done/a stranger's done for you?
share it online with the hashtag #thankyoustranger

Add your comment

  1. Wow what an amazing story, I have no idea how to perform CPR so I would not have been able to do that! I am like you and I can't think of one exceptional thing I have done for mankind which makes me very sad.


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