The Kindness of Strangers

Yesterday, something happened to me that I would like to share. I think people often see others’ bad sides and I have talked to many people who have simply just given up on the human race as a whole. I can see how they can get that way when you turn on the news and it is filled with rape, murder, and scandal with a sprinkling of weather and a subtle hint to the good will of people to their fellow man. Sometimes, though, things happen in my life and I smile and feel so grateful for the good will of others.

Yesterday, I was on a train ride to Ehwa Women’s University to pick up something. I had taken that train every day to school with no incident. Today was a different story. Today, I was riding and on my phone as per usual when the train stopped at a station, the lights shut off, and people started getting off. I just sat there, confused. I usually know what the overhead announcements are saying in Korean so I tune them out. Well, a Korean man came over to me and waved at me.

(Fun fact: In the west, we wave people with our hands up to hither someone over, palm down to send them away. In Korea, all palm down and the direction of the wave either summons or shoo’es people away. To me, it all looks the same honestly, but I’m slowly learning.)

I just waved back. It didn’t register. He waved me again and said to get off the train. That I understood. I noticed many people standing on the platform waiting, I assumed for another train. I was waiting, too. Well, that man saw me and came over to me again and asked in Korean, “Where are you going to?” I told him the stop and he ushered me to follow him, explaining quickly I had to get to the other side of the platform, that this train wasn’t going any further, and then passed a sign and pointed, showing me the name of a stop close to my destination. I followed him up a level and he pointed to the right side of the station. I said I understood and thanked him. Then we departed.
I think I should add that in Seoul, everything is quick. It is a very different pace of life that I am used to and was raised in back in the Southeastern United States. I like to joke that in Seoul, some of your first Korean will be, “빨리 빨리! (Bballi-bballi!)” which translates to “Quickly, quickly!” That man was in a rush, no doubt to catch his transfer or make an appointment, but he still tried to helped a foreigner out who was apparently lost. That meant a lot to me.
I ended up getting on the right train and learning later from HB that that train splits in one part but rarely does so he didn’t think to ever warn me. Thanks, baby! Haha. Despite that little hiccough, it was a good day yesterday and I was grateful for the kindness of a stranger. It is honestly discouraging when one thinks that not everyone is like that, but I think it is important to keep your eye out for the good people. Those are the people who are worth more individually than all the negative people put together.

 If we expect something out of people, we must first be willing to give it ourselves. It is unreasonable to expect something else out of someone else and you are not willing to demonstrate that same quality or perform that same action.
~Yours Truly


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