A friend posted a meme in her FB group today that read: Some stranger somewhere remembers you because you were kind to them.
That’s such a lovely thought, and being the recipient of kindness from strangers, I know it’s true; at least for me it is.
I’ve used the term stranger angel for decades to mean someone I don’t know at all who serendipitously crosses my path and bestows on me an unexpected kindness. (I was surprised not to find it mentioned online beyond this one quote. Did I make up this term?)
Who’s to say that a smile or an outstretched hand from a stranger is not an act of an angel in disguise.Unknown author
Let me tell you one of my stranger angel stories to illustrate.
I remember clearly a time in the fall of 1986, long before China developed into the modern nation it is today, I was on a CAAC plane on a late afternoon flight from Beijing destined for Guangzhou when it landed instead in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province. The pilot announced in both Mandarin and (stiff) English that Guangzhou was shrouded in fog and the plane couldn’t safely land there. Instead, we’d be bused to a hotel to wait for the weather in the south to clear.
When we arrived at the state-owned hotel, an old, grimy, joyless structure, we were informed that we’d have to pay for our stay. That came as a bit of a shock to me, not only because it deviated from international aviation practice, but because in those days I did not carry credit cards (and anyway, they were probably not yet accepted in such a non-touristic town) and I had completely run out of cash. I had to find a solution.
After dumping my small suitcase in the room allocated to me, I ventured down to the dingy hotel bar I’d seen located off the lobby. There, as I expected, I found a small group of gweilos (foreign devils, as Cantonese call white people) drinking tepid local beers. I joined them, and after some small talk, I explained my predicament. One of the men, an Australian engineer (whose name I don’t remember), readily offered to pay my hotel bill for me, no strings attached. I slept without worry that night.
This one story has a second stranger angel.
We were told to be ready to leave for the airport by 6 am. The hotel did not serve us any breakfast. So we arrived shortly after and were made to sit and wait in the stone cold and cheerless departure lounge. One hour passed, two hours; no sign of movement, no plane in sight, no announcements. My only joy was sitting and chatting with the same group of Aussies I’d enjoyed the beer with.
Finally, a middle-aged Chinese man in the standard blue Mao jacket approached our group. He was carrying some paper cups and an oversized classic Chinese aluminum thermos flask. Handing each of us foreigners a cup (I noticed the Chinese passengers got none), I anticipated we’d get either just the boiling water or maybe some tea leaves. Even that would be welcome as a remedy against the chilly early morning and the morning hunger pangs.
Then he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out something I had not seen before: packets of 3-in-1 instant coffee! While today I might find them vile, believe me, little has ever tasted as good to me as this coffee right then!
We were made to wait another six hours, without food, without information. But this stranger angel came by every couple of hours to give us another cup of instant coffee.
We’ll never know what was really wrong. When we landed in Guangzhou later that day, the sun shone brightly and I learned there never was any fog that day.
But I had met two stranger angels. And today I think of them fondly and sincerely thank them again, as well as the many others who have made my life more bearable in times of trouble.
Have you had encounters with stranger angels? Do share…
I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love, it is the common fiber of life, the flame that heats our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives.Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I hope you’ll join me in subscribing to—and endeavoring actively to engage in—random acts of kindness. The kindness can be as simple as smiling openly to a stranger on the street, connecting with the check-out clerk (filling your own grocery bags, saying thank you, and wishing them a nice day), or donating your time or a few dollars/pesos to a charity doing good work.
Let your kindness ripple out. Someone will thank you for it.
How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.Morgan Freeman