The kindness of strangers

Last night, I was kind to a stranger, giving comfort and a helping hand. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, here. I am giving credit to all those individuals out there who were kind to me—a stranger. I’m just passing it on.

Just a little after 9 p.m., we heard the long screech of tires and the loud bang of crunching metal. It was to the back of our house where a county road passes by in a descending curve and an intersection with a side road. We investigated. Saw that it was a one-car accident, and the driver was walking across the street towards me and the neighbor, who also came outside. The young man was shaken, but mobile. He was calling his parents on his cell.

As I called 911, the dispatcher tried to determine the reason for the call and to respond accordingly. I asked the young man to sit down on our porch. The dispatcher asked if there were injuries. He complained his chest hurt a little. The dispatcher asked us to see if he was bleeding. He opened his shirt a little to reveal only redness. I checked his eyes, and they looked normal. Clearly, he was shaken, and I asked him to step inside the warmth of our house to sit on the couch. The dispatcher said emergency vehicles were on the way.

Within a minute or two, an ambulance rolled up to the front of our house while a fire truck and several county police cars rolled up to the accident scene. The young man walked unaided to the ambulance to be checked out. In the meantime, his parents arrived, clearly concerned and wanting to see their son. The look on the mother’s face was near panic. Was her boy all right? What was the extent of his injuries? We learned he was only 17 years old and had been driving for three weeks.

My wife and I played a very minor role in this scenario. We called 911, and we gave comfort to the young man until he could receive proper attention. We could have done nothing. We could have “stayed out of it” and not gotten involved. We chose to do something to help.

I think back about all those individuals who came to my rescue through the years—the ones who made a difference with only a compensation request to pass it on. “Someday, you will be able to help someone else. That is all I ask.” There was that couple in Nebraska that stopped to help me on a Sunday morning when my truck broke down. There was a man who helped me off the ground and out of harm’s way while I sat in the street after a motorcycle accident; he also picked up my motorcycle and moved it. There were more incidents, but it’s not important to make an extensive list here.

I am one of those people that believe humans are good, and intend to be helpful, not harmful. Every day, someone commits an act of kindness to a stranger, and it goes unnoticed, except to the recipient, and those who learn of the kindness. How much impact does it make? I hope and pray a lot. That somewhere down the road, this young man and his parents will commit an act of kindness to another stranger. And then they pass it on. So on and so on, until we are spending more time caring for one another, rather than trying to tear each other down or to be fearful or hurtful.

The young man was taken to the emergency room to be checked out. The police finished their investigation, and it appears that inexperience, speed, darkness and an unknown road contributed to his accident. The car was totaled when it slammed into the culvert. A flatbed wrecker hauled it away. Peace returned to our little neighborhood.

Have you been helped by the kindness of strangers? Pass it on. Commit an act of kindness, today. You’ll feel good and humbled at the same time.

See you on the highway.