People step up to help others, and not just during emergencies

The kindness of strangers

We have been away from home since the beginning of August, so we missed being there for all the events of the last few weeks. Everyone everywhere has asked us about the fires. We just felt helpless.

It has been so heartening to see and hear stories of how our community has come together, how people have helped one another. When things get tough, it is encouraging to know there always seem to be people who rise to the occasion and do something special.

Some folks have that sort of soul—firefighters and other first responders, for example. Is it a special gene they have, or a special calling that makes them want to put themselves on the edge for the sake of helping others? I salute you all and thank you for your service. You are special human beings.

There are stories in the news of special events too, like when individuals help someone else or support someone they don’t even know. One racer helping another cross the finish line, or children who cannot see differences between themselves and their friends because to them they don’t matter. I love the kindred spirit that comes alive in those moments.

Everyone deserves the kindness of strangers. On the road, we have had some long days, some of them just from the many miles covered and others from mishaps along the way. I don’t know about you but when an unexpected gesture of kindness or consideration is directed my way, my spirits are buoyed immediately.

I will carry the analogy of buoying one’s spirits even further. The more often one is buoyed by this kindness, the more buoyant one’s soul becomes. I don’t want to sound too corny, but this kind of regular behaviour could actually float your boat.

I’ll give you an example – recently we had a good day, only dealing with a soggy start when our camping spot became full of mucky puddles from rain that kept on falling as we packed up. We mopped up as best we could, happy that we had the foresight to tuck our extra things away the night before. So, our spirits were running pretty high.

Our new spot tonight is at the farm of an older couple in upstate New York, complete with full services among singing birds, crickets and what I think is some kind of frog. Not a puddle in sight. All tucked in we were, when the lady of the house came down the lane with her dog to say, “You’re coming up for ice cream, right?”

We were pleasantly shocked . What a lovely gesture. How could we say no? We tried, but she said it was a tradition with all the “boondockers” they hosted. So up the lane we went and had a delightful visit sharing stories and enjoying their hospitality (and of course, their ice cream.)

They certainly didn’t have to show us more hospitality, having already invited us onto their property. And yet here we were, in their living room, enjoying the warmth of their home and their company.

I am so glad we are staying two nights, as it gives us a chance to share our dinner with them tomorrow. Then we can at least feel we returned the favour and kept the energy flowing. We will look forward to trying to share that energy as we continue down the road.

I think about that old quote from Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” We shouldn’t depend on it, and it’s unreasonable to expect it will always happen when we would like. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put the wheels in motion.

Not many of us have the special spark that makes us want to be first responders. But we all have a spark of kindness we can share. How about this as a more general approach, from Mother Teresa? “Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

Or, to put it in words that offer a bit more explanation, here is a suggestion from someone else who tried to keep that energy flowing: “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

See you down the road.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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