Monday, September 26, 2011

"I've always relied on the kindness of strangers ..."

Okay.  That's a lie.  Having lived a number of years on this particular planet, in a variety of locales, I will admit to the development of a surprising level of independence and self sufficiency.  It's not that I haven't regularly found myself the recipient of assistance, rather that I rarely encounter individuals who go out of their way to offer guidance and help without a formal request.

Which makes the activities my partner and I experienced on a recent train trip from Bruges to Brussels particularly noteworthy.  Having spent an amazing few days wandering around this delightful little village, taking in the sites, drinking beer and eating chocolate (it's pretty much what you do), we boarded our morning train for the return journey.  With a plane to catch, and thus a schedule to adhere to, we were nevertheless relaxed from the start.

About halfway into the 1 hour journey, the train slowed and the announcements began.  Having only kitchen and bar level French under my belt, and not even close to the same competency in German, and nothing in the way of Flemish, I was unclear as to what was happening. Ditto the gorgeous man sitting next to me, encouraging me to think about pink fluffy clouds.   But that's another story for another day.

Out of nowhere (okay, the back of the carriage), a woman arrived and asked if we wanted to know what was happening.  Explaining that there was to be a 20 minute delay due to another train, we sat back relieved - we still had time.  The announcements continued however, each time with further bad news for our schedule, and the all important flight.

This amazing woman, completely unprompted, got on the phone several times to check the best way for us to proceed.  When ultimately we ended up in a station diametrically opposed to where we needed to be, she offered us advice on how best to make the connection.   We rushed to a taxi and paid a hefty price, but in the end we made the journey in time.

We didn't get her name, will likely never see her again.  But she's made an impression that will last a long time - one of proactive assistance, rendered with care and attention.  Kind of reaffirms your faith in human beings.

Love, Me.

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