Sunday, 21 December 2014

#lifecapturedproject: the kindness of a stranger

When I recall the kindness I received from a stranger recently, the presiding image etched in my memory is of me standing by my car in the middle of the road, my hands on my knees, bent double with laughter and tears spilling over.

It was a sunny Saturday morning in the middle of Autumn, and I was full of excitement and anticipation as I drove across the city to a writing workshop. I had never attended a writing workshop before, let alone one where the focus was motherhood. I am still so very near the beginning of my motherhood journey, and yet I knew that there was so much that I would like to write about. Regardless of the nature of the workshop, I knew that there would be plenty of words spilling out from my pen that morning, and that three hours was probably not long enough to write down everything about motherhood that I wanted to.

My husband looked after our daughter for the morning, and I was looking forward to having this uninterrupted time to learn and write and be inspired by other mothers. The workshop was taking place in South Bristol - a part of the city which I do not know very well. In all honesty, the more I drive around this city, the less I like driving. For so many reasons. But on this occasion, I had silently acknowledged that driving in an unfamiliar place is much less stressful without a baby. Unless. Unless finding a parking space is pretty much impossible.

I had reached the venue on time, popped in to let them know that I had arrived, but I just needed to park my car, and off I went again to find a space. Half an hour later and I was wishing that I could have just cycled instead and avoided the frustration of finding somewhere safe, legal, and preferably free to leave my car. I spotted a road that I hadn't yet tried in my half an hour of exploring, and turned down it. I very quickly wished I hadn't, as it was very short, very narrow and had nowhere easy to park or turn. But I had to turn the car around in order to get out of the road. I started to attempt my turn, but quickly realised there was a very high chance of me crunching the cars surrounding me. I asked a man for help and he looked at the back end of my car, smiled, nodded, shrugged and walked back inside his garage. No English. No confidence in communicating with gestures. No help. Oh help.

By this point, I had managed to rotate my car until I was horizontal across the road, all the while, desperately praying that no-one else would come down the road while I was stuck, and that I would manage to avoid causing damage to any other cars. After each tiny maneuver, I hopped out of the car to check how much space I had. Barely any was the answer every time. I stood in the road looking at my car, wedged between two rather expensive vehicles, and all I could think was, 'I am stuck. I am completely stuck, and I can't get out of this mess alone without causing damage.' And then the hot tears started to sting my eyes and blur my vision.

Just at that moment, a man came along, and thankfully, he didn't ignore me. Or perhaps, he couldn't ignore this slightly odd sight of a woman on the edge of tears standing in the middle of the road. Without hesitation he asked, 'Are you alright?' At which point I burst into tears and said, 'NO!' in a slightly hysterical manner. And this is when I found myself doubled over, laughing and crying, all the while thinking, 'this poor man. I really am ok and I don't need him to do anything, except perhaps move my car for me..' It's amazing what you are willing to entrust to a complete stranger when you are completely stuck. He put his arm around me and reassured me that all would be ok, and I wondered at how many people would stay this calm in the face of an hysterical woman.

I asked if he could help me get out of the mess that I was in. He took a deep breath, looked at how little space I had, and said, 'Yes. But it's going to take a while.' I had to put my trust in this stranger that he would see me out safely. When I couldn't see how little space I had but he was telling me it was safe to keep inching towards another car, I had to trust that he was being truthful. He was willing to give of his time and patience to help me out and I was so incredibly grateful for the kindness he showed me.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Hannah, I can totally empathise with how you felt because I've been in similar situations in the past! Isn't it wonderful when we encounter such beautiful kindness from a stranger?
    Ronnie xo

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