Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The kindness of strangers

Two weeks back my work project team had a night out, and it went a bit overboard. Not much is collectively remembered past 9:30pm, and I don't really know what I time I got home that night. The next morning, I made it into work (barely) and instead of riding my bike or walking, I treated myself to a bus ride. After disembarking, my stomach wasn't pleased with the water I drank before boarding and I had to take a moment leaning up a tree down the street from my office "to compose myself." As I stood there, holding myself up and lamenting British drinking culture, a woman a few years older than me approached me kindly and asked "Are you okay? Do you need to use a toilet? My office is just around the corner." I was so taken aback by her gesture, and trying to keep the water in my stomach, that I just sort of laughed and thanked her and said "Oh, I'm okay, just had a bit of a rough night last night. My office is just over there." She smiled and walked on, probably having been in a similar situation the day before.

I love this story for two reasons. One, only in the UK would someone leaning up against a tree, trying not to puke, prompt good samaritan-type behavior. Had I been assaulted, or mugged, that woman wouldn't have done anything. Two, if nothing else, the British drinking culture at least binds people together in a collective hangover that everyone can appreciate. Whoever she was, I thank that woman from the bottom of my heart for understanding my situation, and offering me a bit of support.

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