“Be kind to one another”. Whether you’ve read it in your Bible, heard it from Ellen at the end of every show, or associate it with primary school lessons, it’s not difficult to see that for both Christians and non-Christians, these are words to live by. I’ll be the first to say that a strategy is necessary when confronting life. However, there is no greater satisfaction than walking blind into life’s path, with nothing but a pleasant disposition and good manners.
I’ve lived in Gold Coast for just under a year now, and although I enjoy my relatively quiet life by the ocean, I can’t say I don’t miss the hustle of a big city. I make the trek up to Brisbane whenever I can, because without my monthly dose of city vibes I tend to get ill-tempered. For moi, getting ‘city vibes’ has everything to do with intruding, natural and random acts of kindness. This week, I’m in Sydney for easter break, and I wanted to share a few anecdotes where kindness is concerned.
The Apple Guy
My friends will know that I have a 2007 black MacBook named Jasper. Jas works like a charm, which is why I haven’t replaced him all these years (though the MacBook Air is looking oh so tempting). Everything was going well, until disaster struck on Saturday. My adaptor sizzled (literally, like steaks on a grill), then the light in the connected wire just went out. It was bound to happen eventually, I mean it’s been charging my Jas for 7+ years! Only problem was the timing couldn’t be worse. My roomies both have Macs, so I took it easy for the first two days, not making the trip to the Apple store in GC cause it’s so far and I wanted to prolong my inevitable $100 bill for a new adaptor. But I had to bring Jas to Sydney because I’m on study week, and my aunt doesn’t have a mac! I managed to squeeze the last ounce of battery on my first night in Sydney, then headed to Apple the next morning. When I walked in, I was greeted by a specialist and told her my issue. She told me since it was way out of warranty, I’ll have to buy a new charger, and she sent me up one floor. On the second floor, the same thing happened… once again I was told I’d have to pay, and I was sent up one more floor to the genius bar. The guy who greeted me told me the same thing, then asked me to wait on the counter while he went to the back to grab me an adaptor. As I was waiting, a genius was standing behind the counter across from me, looking pretty frazzled. We made eye contact so I greeted him, and he responded with “hi, sorry I just have to fill out this report” sounding beyond pooped. So I responded with “must be a pretty brutal report” and he put down the iPad and explained how a customer just yelled at him so he had to file an incident report. I comforted him by telling him people always yelled at me over their coffee orders at Starbucks, and I shared an awesome anecdote of how someone threw a hot chocolate back at me because it didn’t ‘taste right’. We began chatting away, and realized we had a mutual friend at Starbucks head office in Sydney. Not a moment later, the other dude came back with my new adaptor and said “how did you want to pay for it?”, when the other interrupted and said “this one’s on us”. After thanking him, he responded “thanks for making my day, it was pretty crappy.” POW! Be kind to one another!
The Car Dude
So I didn’t really tell anyone when I was going to be in Sydney, because I was only supposed to be here for a short 6 days to see one of my Canadian friends, who I wanted to spend all my time with. However, his plans blew over and he didn’t end up coming, so I figured I’d just spend a quiet week with my family and myself. I completely forgot to notify anyone else that I was in Sydney. One of which is my awesome little cuz Timothy, who eventually figured it out thanks to instagram. When everyone was on the same page, we decided to make a day of it, so met up in the harbour! After a very trippy afternoon in the Museum of Contemporary Art, we decided to take a Ferry back west instead of taking a train the whole way. We took a scenic ferry ride to Olympic Park, where there is a train station that connects to the west. Neither of us have gone this way before, so we were surprised when we realized the Olympic Park Wharf was nowhere near the station! You could see the stadiums in the far distance, so we were both pooped. I told Timmy we should hitchhike, but he was a bit hesitant. I hailed the first car that drove by, and explained our situation. Without pause, the dude replied “hop in!” He drove us over, and we had a super pleasant conversation about his son who lives in Canada. BAM! Be kind to one another!
The Cab Driver
Wednesday night, I was in the city for the Iron & Wine concert in the Sydney Opera House. As expected, Sam Beam was phenomenal, and I left the concert in especially high spirits. By the time I got on a train into the west, it was nearly midnight. I was originally going to take the train to St. Mary’s Station (10 minutes from my aunt’s house), then catch a cab home. But while on the bus, my cuz texted me saying he was still up and that he’d pick me up. Of course I was all for it, so I texted him back saying I’ll msg him when I’m at Blacktown (which is a few stations before St. Mary’s which would give him time to arrive at the station when I’m there). Apparently he never got this message, and he called me when I was at Doonside (the station after Blacktown). He asked “where are you?” and I said “Doonside! Almost there!”. So! I got to St. Mary’s which is the equivalent of waiting at Kennedy Station half passed midnight. Some dude was shooting up in the corner and a group of guys were arguing on the other end of the pick up/drop off. 5 minutes goes by, then I get a phonecall from my cuz. He said he was there, so we started looking for one another until we realized he was in fact at Doonside station… misinterpreting my “I’m at Doonside!” comment on the phone. I didn’t want to wait another minute at the dodgy station, so I hopped into a cab and told him I’d meet him at home. FAIL. I jumped into the front of the cab and told him the address. Side note: I’ve found that taxi drivers are a lot kinder/more chatty if you sit in the front, I guess it makes you more approachable/breaks down those invisible boundary lines. Anyway, we got to chatting and I told him about the misunderstanding with my cousin. Then I asked about his day, his route, his life really. By time time he dropped me off, the fare was at $18.00. When I gave him a 20 he gave me $10 back and said “don’t worry about it hun.” AWESOME! Be kind to one another!
The moral of these incidents? If you’ve guessed it has something to do with ‘be kind, and you’ll get what you want/you’ll go further in life’, you’ve guessed wrong! I’ve been in dozens of cabs since I moved to Australia (I don’t have a car and public transport hates me some days), and never has this happened. So why bother sharing? It may not be true for everyone reading, but for me, I have nothing to lose by being kind. I know how far a smile or nod of acknowledgment can go. I’ve served people coffee for years, and asking ‘how are you?’ will yield one of these three things:
1. The close-ended response: I’m good, thanks.
2. No response: I’ll have a tall cappuccino.
3. The person who wants to talk: How wonderful their day is, how horrible their boss is, worrying about their divorce, crying with you about their wife’s miscarriage, showing you photos of their adorable kids, etc. (all of which have been shared with me in the context of ordering a caffeinated beverage)
Our world needs more love, and if you aren’t ready to love strangers than you can start with showing kindness to everyone you encounter, yes, even to the punk that works at the local convenience store.