Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

Fellow blogging buddy Abby Mumford does this semi-regular post entitled Conversations with Strangers, in which she recounts funny/awkward/heart-warming scenes where she's pushed herself to step outside of her comfort zone and actually interact with people she does not know.  Apparently, she doesn't remember the "Don't talk to strangers" talk all mothers hand out during childhood.

Well, neither do I, to be honest, because I, too, talk to strangers.  But, it's not outside my comfort zone to do so, which is why this little episode surprised me more than a little.

A little scene set-up:

As some of you might know, I spent last week, complete AWOL.  I was on "vacation" up at the old folks' house.  I use the term vacation rather loosely as EVERY single time I visit the 'rents, my mother has a laundry list of projects she wants us to complete.

This vacation's project: get her backyard completely allergen free.  (She has a white Doberman that is allergic to EVERYTHING, thus the nickname Frag-ilee that we have saddled her with.  Because, well, she must be Italian!**)

Anywho,  more on that little task tomorrow.  Today, we talk about what took place AFTER the vacation was over and I sat on the plane, enjoying my complimentary water and bag o' preztels.

Just as the plane was about to pull away from its parking spot, a soldier hustled aboard.  After he took the vacant seat next to me, he told me how he'd been on standby for hours and hadn't expected to get on this flight.  That he'd be getting home a full eight hours ahead of when he'd originally anticipated.

We chatted for a bit.  Me asking him where "home" was, where he was stationed, and how long before he had to be back.  After a little bit, we both retreated into our respective time-fillers.  Him reading a magazine and me working through my new obsession, Kakuro.

Many people do not know what Kakuro is, so when he started staring at my book, I went into a detailed explanation of the number puzzle that I describe as "Sudoku on crack and do very addicting"  Halfway through my tangent, he takes my hand in his and leans in real close.

HIM: (concern bleeding through his voice) Are you all right?

ME: (confused)  Yeah, of course.

HIM: You know, you're not to blame.  Whatever this is, you can tell me.  It's not your fault.

ME:  Huh? (clearly, I'm very articulate)

HIM:   It's not your fault.  You have to tell someone, get out of this situation.

This is about the time that I realize he's not holding my hand, but my wrist.  I look down to see what started all this weirdness.



ME:  Oh, that.  (pulls my hand out of his grasp, lets out a weird laugh) It's not what you think. I'm fine.

HIM: (frowns in clear disbelief)  Then, what happened?

ME: I had an accident.  Nothing big.

HIM: (frowns even more)

ME: (realizing that only victims of abuse use THAT excuse, reaches into purse and pulls out camera)  No, no.  Seriously, I'm fine.

I then proceeded to show him(very proudly) what caused this and various other injuries on my body.  When I am finished, he laughed and shook his head.

HIM: That was quite a project.

ME: Yeah, but it was worth it.

We chatted some more during the rest of the flight and I found myself quite appreciative of his concern, even if it was misplaced.  It reminded me that there are people out there willing to put their lives on hold to help a complete and total stranger.

And, that my friends, it what humanity is really all about.

PS: If you're wondering what on earth I was doing on my vacation to end up looking like an assault victim, come back tomorrow to find out all the gory details.

**blatant A Christmas Story reference :)