Blanche DuBois (from “A Streetcar Named Desire”) once famously said, ” I have always relied on the kindness of strangers”. As travelers, we often have to rely on the kindness of strangers. We are often in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language, or are lost or took the wrong train or bus. I’ve never met a traveler who didn’t have at least one story, so I’d love to hear yours. Tell me about a time or times when someone who you never met and maybe didn’t even speak a common tongue with really helped you out. I’ll tell one myself below:
I was in Katowice Poland back in 1988. This was back when it was still a communist country. They didn’t have the tourist infrastructure they do now and almost no one and I do mean NO ONE spoke English. I was supposed to take a train out of the country to Prague but there was only one train and it left at midnight. I was on the platform at midnight but no train. I slept that night in the train station. I tried to explain what happened to the people at the station but couldn’t find anyone who understood what I was saying. The next night I was again on the platform that was on the sign at midnight again no train. I spent another night at the train station after trying to find someone who could point me to a hotel. I was an emotional mess by day three. I again tried to talk to someone at the train station without luck. But this time someone tapped me on the shoulder and in English said: “what’s going on?” I explained the situation as unemotionally as I could. he spoke to the woman at the counter for me in polish. Come to find out the train was actually leaving at 11pm, even though the sign said midnight. I asked the guy about this and he said ‘Well, underneath the sign there is a message in polish which said to disregard the time on the schedule as it was now an hour earlier. My two nights in the train station chill had gotten me a bit of a cough. The man said his name was Michael and he invited me to his home for dinner. I met his wife and young children and had a wonderful meal. He even went back to the train station with me to make sure I got on the right train. Right before I got on the train Michael said: ” My wife wanted you to have this for your cough” and handed me a sack. inside were two oranges. (which back in the socialism days were not cheap) I got his address but lost it later on the trip. it was such an amazing act of kindness. Wherever you are Michael “Dziekuje” (Thank you in Polish)
4 Replies to “Hey, Fellow travel bloggers, Let’s have a “Thankful Thursday””
What a wonderful story. 🙂
Thank you. Some of the kindest people i ever met traveling were in Poland.
SO. MANY. STORIES. Urgh. How about that time in Japan when a cashier on a smoke break saw my mom struggling to start the car (it was new, a rental AND an automatic, sue her) and showed her how to do it? Or that time in Morocco when a shop owner invited us into his home for dinner despite us not having bought anything? What about that time when we met a lovely Korean couple and their daughter at a hot spring in Japan and then when I went to Korea to study they made sure I was properly settled in and even went so far as to give me a phone so I could contact them if I ever had a problem? Then there’s also that time when a Chinese man spent an hour with me looking and asking around for my hotel when I was half-convinced I’d have to sleep in the street… As I said, so many stories!
Those are great stories. It helps keep the faith in humanity going to hear them.