The Kindness of Strangers

Earlier this week a had a lovely encounter in second hand shop that reminded me that where we can take small actions to help someone else, the effect can be out of all proportion to the effort.

My second cousin had been staying for a long weekend. A whole generation below me in age, she feels more like an extra to our own grown up kids. She has come to live in the UK from Australia and has been getting established little by little, finding a job, changing job, finding digs, then finding different digs as you do at that age.  She had not long moved house when she came last weekend so household items where on her ‘to do’ list eg clothes hangers. She learnt the meaning of ‘blag’, right after she’d blagged four coat-hangers for free in a supermarket. (She didn’t have the word but she had the skill!)

Then on Sunday we window shopped in a little second hand furniture shop just round the corner and Emily spotted an appealing beside cabinet.

The shop wasn’t open again till Tuesday so we wandered round then whilst taking the dog for his constitutional.

The item was there. The item looked perfect. But within minutes of arriving, the item had sold! And not to Emily 😦

We commiserated with each other over bad timing and I tried to cheer her up but as this was the third ‘beside cabinet search’ of the weekend, we were pretty gutted to have got ‘so close’ to a successful purchase.

Two minutes later, the person who’d bought it walked back into the shop and announced, ‘I don’t really have space for this, I’ve decided I don’t want it after all’

That was the first mini-miracle: it was there, it wasn’t there, it was there again!

So we conferred again… we hadn’t even discussed the price yet and then there was still the problem of getting it back to London on the train…

We were interrupted mid-conversation by a young woman shopping in the same store.

‘Where do you live in London?’

Odd question. But even so, Emily told her.

‘Oh we live just near there, we’re going back this evening. We can put it in our car for you and deliver it to your house tomorrow!!’

I think there was a stunned silence at this point. Followed by ‘Really?

She checked with her husband who was also in the store and he was fine with the idea. She even apologised for not being able to fit Emily herself in the car!

How amazing is that? They happened to be in the shop for the same few moments we were, they happen to live just a few streets away (London is a big place!) and they happened to be willing to help out a complete stranger.


emily's bedside table

Now Emily has her lovely beside table in place, one of the first pieces of furniture she’s ever owned for herself and it will always have a lovely memory attached to it.  Forgive me Emily, I know you may be ambivalent about divine intervention but I know who I was thanking when we walked out the store!

(As you can see Emily is a gifted photographer. Her real passion is photographing (and cooking) food. She hopes to develop her talent and train towards getting paid to do this. Meanwhile here is her blog  Go on, salivate… it’s delicious but calorie free).

5 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

Add yours

  1. A minister friend of mine calls these things ‘Godincidences’ as he has seen too many to believe they happen by chance. When someone helps a stranger out just because they can I think we get a glimpse of the Kingdom Of God at work.

    1. Hi Hugh, I haven’t heard from you lately. I dropped by your blog but I couldn’t find a way to make contact so maybe replying to this comment is the way. Just wondering if you are okay? I have missed your responses and insights. I hope all is well, with love, Sheila

  2. I think Rugby folk are generally very kind. Sometimes you have to have the nerve to ask for help, but they always come through.

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