On a certain level, I am quite an emotional person. But, being English, I usually keep it quite well hidden. However, there are certain things that can move me profoundly. For example, I can be moved to tears by an act of kindness. Every day I hear in the news about people being cruel to other people. I can never understand it, when being kind is easier and more rewarding. If you do something nice for someone, you make them feel better and you will find you feel good yourself too. In many cases, the person you helped will be inspired to help others. So it is not a win-win situation, it is a win-win-win-…
I am always of the lookout for stories of kindness, as hearing them raises my spirits. Here is one from about 30 years ago, that I would like to share …
In 1982, Bernard Hare was a student in London. His life was somewhat out of control. He was in debt and had been involved in petty crime. He was out of touch with his family. He was not making any positive contribution to society and his future looked bleak.
One day, he received a message that his mother was seriously ill. He phoned home and spoke with his father, who said that she was unlikely to last the night. Bernard decided that he had to get home – it was his last chance for a reconciliation with his mother. He had very little money, but just enough for the train fare up to Leeds. The only problem was that he would miss a connection in Peterborough by 20 minutes. He could not see how he could get home that night, but caught the train anyway.
In due course, the ticket inspector came along and punched Bernard’s ticket. Instead of just continuing down the train, the inspector asked Bernard what was wrong, as he was visibly upset. Bernard was not in a mood for talking and aggressively suggested that the inspector got lost. But the man persisted and sat down opposite. Bernard realized that the only way to get rid of him was to tell him his story. When he finished, the inspector said “Sorry to hear that, son. I’ll leave you alone then. Hope you make it home in time.” and wandered off.
Ten minutes later he was back and sat down again. He told Bernard that, when the arrived in Peterborough, he should run over to Platform 1 where the Leeds train would be waiting. Bernard was dumbfounded and asked if the train was late or what. The answer he got was “No, it isn’t late. I’ve just radioed Peterborough. They’re going to hold the train up for you. As soon as you get on, it goes. Everyone will be complaining about how late it is, but let’s not worry about that on this occasion. You’ll get home and that’s the main thing.” And with that, he was off down the train inspecting tickets.
Bernard was speechless, not being able to believe what he had just heard. He rushed off after the inspector to thank him. The inspector responded with “Not a problem. If you feel the need to thank me, the next time you see someone in trouble, you help them out. That will pay me back amply. Tell them to pay you back the same way and soon the world will be a better place.”
Bernard got home that night. His mother did indeed die in the early hours of the morning, but he was at her side.
He went on to complete his education and become a professional writer. Over the last 30 years, he has dedicated his spare time to helping young people get their lives back on track – paying the inspector back many times over.
A good story eh? It is true and not an urban myth, but actually I think a good story can be inspiring either way.
Now it is your turn …