Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Last year, David and I decided to spend two weeks of our Christmas break on a holiday exploring parts of the South Island I hadn’t seen before. We drove along state highways, discovered back roads and crossed bridges old and new. Every now and then, we would stop to take photos of anything that took our fancy.

Cruising along State Highway 1 in our black Subaru, we stopped by a paddock between Cheviot and Greta Valley to take photographs of bales of newly-rolled hay lying on verdant hills against a backdrop of grazing flock of sheep. Thinking it would take only a minute or two, David left the car key inside, closed the car doors then crossed the road for the photograph.

A few photos later and we were back to our car, only to find out that we locked outselves out of the car! We were in the middle of nowhere with no houses nor people in sight! And everything that would enable us to get in touch with people who could help us was inside the car!

Frantically, we flagged down the first approaching car for help. In the car were three English tourists touring the South Island for the first time. After telling them our story and the help we needed, they agreed to let us use their cellphone to call AA for assistance.

After what seemed to be an eternity, we were able to get hold of an AA man who assured us that help would be coming in about an hour. We thanked our new friends for their kindness. Hearing that it would take us an hour outside the car waiting for help, they left us a bottle of water saying that we could go thirsty under that searing noonday sun.

It was heartwarming to know that there were people who were just too happy to be of help even to strangers like us. Come to think of it, we may never see them again. It was an awkward situation we found ourselves in, but the kindness of these strangers just made it possible for us to laugh about it.

Bracing ourselves for the long wait, we leaned on the car watching traffic go by. Then we saw a red four-wheel drive made a U turn. In a matter of seconds, it was pulling over beside us. In it was a couple, who introduced themselves to be locals and who sensed that something was not right. “Are you guys, okay?” they inquired "Is there anything we can do for you?" We told them what happened and assured them that help would be coming soon. We thanked them for their concern. Realising that everything was taken cared of, they bade us goodbye and drove off.

You could just imagine how relieved we felt when help arrived after thirty minutes and not one hour! The AA man was able to skillfully insert a special rod through the car window and fish for the car keys inside.

I was completely bowled over by the experience of meeting strangers who were just too willing to respond to other people's call for help without hesitation. Truly, the innate goodness of humans.

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