Spring and the Kindness of Strangers

Today is the first day of spring. Two days ago, we flew to London with our soon to be ten-year-old granddaughter to spend a week exploring the city. Here in London, the city is ablaze in color. Narcissus and tulips are in full bloom, cherry trees are blossoming, and gardens are lush. The weather is balmy, and it feels like the perfect place to be on the first day of spring.

Our granddaughter has a list of things she wants to do in London – the Rosetta stone, Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye, and a cooking class. She researched schools in advance of our arrival, sent me the link to one which offered a macaroon baking class on Wednesdays. Yesterday our first day in London began with that class. We got caught up in traffic, arrived just as the class was beginning, and she and I hurried to don our plastic aprons and take our spots at the table. For two hours, together with a group of eight women, we beat, folded, piped and whisked ingredients into macaroons. She charmed the group with her cooking knowledge and her chattiness.

After the class and after lunch, the three of us set off for Covent Garden. About fifteen minutes into our walk, I tripped and fell smack on my face. My first thought was I broke my nose. For a moment I lay dazed on the ground as I started to feel the warmth of blood oozing from I wasn’t sure where on my face. Many concerned strangers stopped to help. A chair appeared. A wad of napkins. A cup of ice. By now I sat on the ground, my face bloody from the force of my teeth hitting my lip. Someone hailed a cab. The cabbie took one look at the situation and hesitated. My husband helped me to my feet and onto the chair. Dazed and dizzy, I held towels to my face to contain the blood. The cabbie suggested twice perhaps he should call “Emergency”. Then he called 9-9-9. It became apparent he thought Harvey was another kind stranger. My granddaughter sat in the back seat of the cab, and he waited to leave until the ambulance arrived, sirens blaring.

Three EMT workers jumped out and invited us onto their bus. There were seats for all of us, and as the lead EMT went through her assessment, our granddaughter chatted with them. She offered them macaroons. They loved her, and they let her sit in the driver’s seat for a photo op. They loved the macaroons, and they said she made their day. After they cleared me to leave with instructions to go to a hospital if anything got worse, they gave us a lift a mile down the road to Covent Garden, which had been our initial destination. They offered suggestions of what to do for the rest of our time in London – the London Eye at dusk, a river cruise, Madame Tussaud’s, the National Portrait Gallery – which sounded a lot like my granddaughter’s list. The EMT plans to sign up for the macaroon baking class.

I don’t anticipate days like I had yesterday when I think about traveling. But it is exactly a day like yesterday that makes me love traveling. I wish I hadn’t landed on my face, but unexpected events present opportunities to see how we are all more alike than not. People are kind and helpful all over the world. I have seen this everywhere. Yesterday I experienced it again – the kindness of strangers stopping their day for a few minutes to help a woman sprawled on the ground, my granddaughter sharing her macaroons with the EMT’s, and my husband’s care and concern late into the evening as he kept an eye on me to make sure I was really okay. I am blessed!