We were late and lost. It was going to be impossible to keep our promise to our parents to be back at the hotel for our dinner reservations.
A predicament my brother and I found ourselves in while on holiday in Dublin, Ireland many years ago. We were barely teenagers and had been allowed to go exploring in the city ourselves so long as we kept our promise and made it back to where we were staying at the agreed time. We knew we wouldn’t be in serious trouble but out of respect for our newly gained trust we agreed to find a payphone and call the hotel to relay our new ETA and explain we were safe and well. (Yes, a payphone; I’m showing my age by declaring this was pre 2000 and therefore pre-mobile phone let alone smartphone).
We asked a nearby stranger for directions to a phone, briefly explaining our reasons. He was in his early twenties, local and very friendly. Our Scottish accents gave us away as tourists immediately. I was expecting a quick point in the right direction but was pleasantly taken aback when he started walking us to nearest payphone. It was only a few minutes away at most, we had stuck to the main streets and it was still light out.
He introduced himself, chatted politely and offered us some local knowledge on some must see lesser known tourist attractions in the short amount of time it took us to arrive at the phone he had selected to guide us to. He opened the booth door, lifted the receiver and casually dug around in his pocket for a few coins and promptly inserted them into the phone. Before we could protest or even thank him, he smiled, handed my brother the phone and wished us all the best for our stay.
I’m now in my mid thirties and still think fondly of our short trip to Dublin all those years ago. If you ever ask me about Dublin my response is always the same. “Lovely place, lot’s to see and the people are the friendliest in the world”.
One simple act of taking 3 minutes out of his day, and some insignificant amount of pocket change from our friendly stranger has left me with a lasting impression of Dublin and eternal thanks for his kind deed.
I’d like to think that somewhere along the years Karma has repaid the gentleman’s favour in kind.
And so to my point…
In an age where consumerism is rife; we are rushing to our next destination with haste for no real reason other than to get there quicker; headphones in and our heads dipped low to avoid eye contact with others.
Slow down. Think of the others around you and how you can help improve their day. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it can be as simple as offering help to a stranger with a map in their hand who is struggling with directions.
Taking a minute to help them may just leave them with a lasting impression of your city, the place you choose to call home.
At the time of the year for resolutions, mine is simply to do more simple random acts of kindness. If I can improve one persons day, then it’s been a worthwhile day.
Originally published at medium.com