Another throwback post, included in this blog because a more recent blog (soon to follow!) will debate the same thing again, 4 years on!
Twice recently, I have wanted to do something kind for somebody but have stopped myself for fear of something that I can’t quite place. The first occasion was a few days ago, one morning when it was absolutely chucking it down with rain (standard Manchester). As I reached the bus stop on my way to work, I noticed a girl around a similar age to me standing without a hood or an umbrella. In short, she was getting drenched. My first thought was to get over there and give her my umbrella, or at least share it with her. After all, you should share and help those worse off, and right then at that specific moment in time, the girl was worse off. What would you have done?
I chose against it. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t particularly care what random people think of me because I like who I am, yet I found myself worrying that my fellow bus stoppers and even the girl herself would think I was strange for offering her my umbrella. It’s the sort of thing that just isn’t done; at least not that I see often, if at all. In fairness, she might not have even wanted an umbrella or coat! She might like the rain. Who am I to to try and help someone who may not even need or want it?
I was absolutely baffled that I stopped myself as I only wanted to help the girl stay dry before what I am assuming was a full day of work ahead. I have always been brought up to be kind to others, and since when has being kind to somebody been so difficult? Why was I thinking about the complications instead of just doing it?! And yet, I wonder how often this happens to other people?
At the weekend as I was driving along in the rain (yes rain again, this is England obviously), I saw an elderly woman walking with two large and heavy looking shopping bags. Again, my first impulse was to pull over and offer her a lift home, but I decided against this based on the same principles; what if I’m being too forward, overbearing and assuming, wanting to help someone who may not even need it? My decision not to help was also fuelled by the memory of a time a few years ago when I pulled my car over in torrential rain (OK I am clearly only kind to people when it’s raining!) to ask an elderly lady if she wanted a lift home. She had no umbrella and only a thin coat and she was walking at a very slow pace. When I pulled over my car she was alarmed, and when I asked her whether she would like a lift to wherever she was going, she looked at me like I had ten heads and shook her head frantically – clearly terrified of the sadistic things I had planned for her should she accept my offer. At the time, it was sad because apparently you can’t even offer a stranger a lift without having an ulterior motive. Maybe because of all of the crime that occurs and having no idea about the type of person I was, or what my intentions were, there was no chance she was getting in my car. What sort of world do we live in if an old lady won’t accept a lift home from a young girl who just wants to be kind? Maybe she was independent and perfectly happy to walk home in the rain. Who knows?
But what I do know, is that twice this week I have not followed my instincts and done something I wanted to do, for fear of… Well, what? I don’t know. For fear of something. Since when has being kind been so complicated?
Earlier this year there was the ‘Random Act of Kindness’ trend splashed across Facebook. I loved that trend because although many people labelled others as ‘glory hunters’ for doing the act, videoing it and putting it on Facebook, they still did the act and made a positive change to somebody’s day. Isn’t that what counts? And yet, still, I find myself in this predicament of not following my instincts out of fear! Maybe I am alone in thinking like this and maybe I’m not. Maybe there’s a bunch of you out there somewhere, equally as apprehensive to do things for someone that could brighten said someone’s day. If there is, what’s stopping you? Enlighten me because I am mystified as to what is stopping me!