A Public Thank You to Kind People

I want to say a public Thank You to some very kind people I’ve met in the last two days.

First, to the woman who gave me directions. I was coming back to Philadelphia from my company’s New York office on Tuesday, when I was diverted onto a new highway. I should have been on 287 south, but was instead shunted onto 17 south.

Route 17 was a — well, a very confusing road. Multiple lanes of traffic going both north and south separated by a high concrete wall and lined with strip malls, box stores and yet more strip malls. There were no road signs telling me how to turn around and head in the opposite direction. Google Maps was no help — it just kept rerouting me to my destination using two-lane roads, doubling the length of time it would take me to reach my home.

Finally, in desparation, I pulled into the parking lot of a Bed Bath and Beyond, and went into the store. I got in line, and explained to the clerk that I was lost and trying to get back to 287.

The woman in line next to me promptly put her purchases on the counter, led me out of the store and proceeded to give me simple, clear directions how to zig-zag through the parking lot to a side road that would get me to 17 north, and back to 287. Five minutes later, I was back on the correct road home. I’d have never figured it out without that shopper’s help so THANK YOU!

The next day, I met another helpful woman at Lord and Taylor’s.

I was in Philadelphia at the time of the building collapse, and between that unfortunate accident and local road construction, it took me close to three hours (in a hot car with no water to drink) to get back to my office. The delay meant I was at work until quite late and hadn’t eaten dinner. As I drove home, feeling utterly exhausted, I realized I needed to stop at Lord and Taylor’s to return something.

And so I went to the store — on the first day of a giant sale. Every checkout counter was jammed with shoppers waiting to pay for their purchases, and there I was, with my small return. The line inched along, the woman in front of me reached the counter, and then she looked back at me. I had a little bag. She had two armfuls of clothes, and more held at the desk. She smiled at me and then unexpectedly told me to go ahead of her. I was out of the store five minutes later, and home twenty minutes after that, where I promptly crawled into bed. Again, to that woman — THANK YOU!

So often, with the daily stress of modern life, we forget that kindness towards others does not have to take a lot of time or effort from us. Those two women spent just five minutes to help a total stranger. It didn’t cost them any money, didn’t require them to go out of their way, just to briefly pause what they were doing and offer their help. But to the person receiving that help — me — it made all the difference in the world. Their kindness saved me so much time, and meant I could get home, and go to sleep, at a decent hour at the end of two very tiring days.

It makes me wonder — just how many times have I had the chance to offer help to someone else, and failed to do so?