Would you like marmalade on that?
Week ten in ‘wake up’ - I will help a stranger every day.
On the face of it, it seemed easy enough. The only problem was I wouldn’t be leaving my job/home from Friday morning through to Sunday evening and then Monday morning right through until Wednesday morning. On Sunday evening I would only be popping out to the gym. Seeing a stranger was going to be tricky. However I wasn’t too concerned about not completing the challenge this week because in truth it’s something that was programmed into me as a child and something I do every time I leave my home.
You learn some great things from your parents and from this week’s challenge I’ve realised that my mum brought me up to ‘reach out’. Even when I was a small chap I was taught to give up my seat on public transport to women, elderly or anyone one who looked like they needed it more than my little legs did. I was robotic in this training. To this day I always offer my seat if the train/bus I’m travelling on fills up. I never consider this anything more than just good manners. I never realised I was always reaching out.
Of course not everyone wants to be reached. Two years ago on a trip to London I was on a crowded Tube so I asked a woman if she wanted my seat and the look on her face was one of absolute terror. She panicked telling me she was getting off soon. Half an hour later she disembarked!
Other things my mum insisted on was to keep checking behind you and holding on to the door when entering or leaving a building and letting people enter/leave when you come to an impasse at the entrance to a building. This I continue to do to this day. An example was only last week on entering Chester cathedral. It always amazes me how happy people can be when you open a door and let them pass through before you. When they thank me I always sincerely reply, “You’re welcome.”
When they don’t give gratitude I say it louder and sarcastically. Either way this puts a smile on my face. Helping strangers makes you feel good about yourself and the community around you. It reinforces your moral code that, “right is right”. At train stations or airports I’m acutely aware of elderly people and the load they are carrying. I’m the first to offer help. If this is making me sound like a saint I’m not, I’m just a person brought up with good manners.
I may not have helped any stranger this week (so far) but knowing that because of my upbringing it IS something I do all the time and something that I am aware of – it’s in my nature to help strangers. But before I sign off this week’s challenge; I don’t know if this counts, but I may well have reached out to help a stranger on Sunday morning when I was setting up the kitchen in the pub and heard a bird tweeting very loudly outside. I went out to see a mistle thrush and immediately fed it bread. There was a connection between us and this gesture made me feel incredible. Does this count? I think it does. Hurray for the ones who help a stranger (a huge pat on my back from myself there – hurray). Any more bread Mr Thrush? I’ve got some multigrain? Would you like marmalade on that? Are we friends now and then does that make you no longer a stranger?