I love good deeds. I was starting to feel a bit like a Londoner, and I lost a little faith in the power of humanity, because in the day-to-day drudgery, Londoners don’t help. Well, the 99% don’t. They’re more likely to use you as a stepping stone than to help you up if you fall at a tube station. I have been shoved, barged into and knocked aside if I’ve been making a slow journey, despite the fact that this is because I’m laden down with bags, heading for home.
Londoners walk around with blinders on, ignorant to everything but their own 9-5 life.
Recently, I’ve been privy to some exceptions.
A few days ago, I was on the tube, and there was a girl who was, to put it politely, drunk as a skunk. She couldn’t stand, could barely stay conscious, and though everyone seemed to be flashing her wary glances, no one was offering to help. I have to admit that I was one of them, although I am entirely less likely to help someone who’s drunk – because whose fault is that? – than say someone who’s injured or older. Eventually, after a couple of minutes of this girl standing up and sitting down, and swaying as she barely maintained her grasp of the handrail, a woman finally got up and offered her a seat. The girl didn’t accept it, but she smiled drunkenly, and continued to dangle. This woman continued to help by offering her the bottle of water she’d had in her bag, by getting other passengers to open windows for her, and by repeatedly offering her the chair. She even stayed with the girl as passengers barged on and off the tube, knocking her precariously balance off further.
I was in awe. This was the first genuinely kind act I’d seen on London public transport, aside from someone occasionally giving up a seat for an older person. These two women will probably never meet again, and it’s 100% likely that the girl on the tube didn’t remember the events after the fact anyway, but still the woman went out of her way to help the drunk girl make it home that little bit safer.
The second act I saw happened yesterday. There’s a large car park out in front of where I work, and two people came into my workplace to say that they’d witnessed a crime. They’d seen a car being broken into, and the robbers pulling away in a van. They’d taken the time to get the make and model of the van, the registration of it, and came to ask if we could record the crime for them. They gave me the details, and then asked for some paper so that they could leave a note with the driver of the car explaining what they had done. I logged the call with the police whilst they took the note outside, and I was inspired to do a little more for the couple when they returned to my work.
It wasn’t much, but their act of kindness inspired me to get them some free food and drinks, because there are not many people who would do what they did. They didn’t watch the spectacle and walk away shaking their heads. They actively took notes to help bring justice for the people who’d had their property stolen. I hoped that my little act of kindness, will keep theirs going in future.
Now, these are all relatively minor things in the grand scheme, but I’m a big believer in the fact that it’s the little things that matter. I work in a business that sees a lot of the public every day, and I try my best to smile and greet each person that passes me. I do my best to engage with those who need help, and I always try to build a rapport. I do my best not to judge, though some people make that increasingly difficult, because I’ve been instilled with manners and polite behaviour since birth. I’m glad that these random acts have made me feel less like a Londoner and reminded me that it is the little things that I do that go a long way to making someone’s day.
Live Long and Prosper.