The Kindness Between Strangers

Mildred - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on November 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I was only five years old when I got lost for the very first time. It was the first time I remember feeling fear, loneliness, and confusion. I was at a theme park standing among several hundred people , none of which I recognized as my family and being only a girl five years of age, all I could do was cry. Many strangers walked by; some stared, others completely ignored me, and some asked if I was alright, but clearly I wasn’t. I was crying for more than an hour and no one had tried to help me. After some time a very kind looking woman walked up to me with her daughter and started talking to me, trying to figure out what was wrong. She immediately held my hand and spoke to me in such a way that within seconds my tears had disappeared. She stayed with me, making me feel as safe as she possibly could until we found my family. Although I never knew the woman’s name, I have a crystal clear image of her kind face. Even after fourteen years I remember her, but most of all what she did for me that day. She could have completely ignored me like others did; she had no obligation to help me, but out of the kindness of her heart she took my hand and gave me the guidance I needed at the time. I believe in the acts of kindness that exists between strangers and the helping hand they offer each other. From time to time I think of that woman, wondering if a kind stranger helped her when she was little like she did when I was just a child. Maybe it happened later in her life when she was a teen or as an adult. Ultimately, I don’t know, but what I do know is this woman who helped me, did so not expecting anything in return. The day I got lost was the day I learned that being kind to not only the ones you love, but to complete strangers was important. Since then, I have had others show their kindness as well. My most recent experience was on a rainy day, about two hundred miles away from home when I got a flat tire on the side of the road. A very nice man pulled over changed my tire for me and told me where the nearest tire shop was located. I tried paying him for his troubles but this was an individual who just offered a helping hand when I had no one else.

Simple acts of kindness can change someone’s life. For me, it took a stressful situation when I was only a child to help me realize the importance of giving a stranger a helping hand. I believe helping those in need is an extraordinary gift to give. I believe in the simplicity of smiling at strangers and greeting them when they pass by. I believe in going the extra mile and helping someone who is lost find their family, helping someone change their tire and helping someone if you are capable of doing so. This I believe.