Kindness During the Storm

Image courtesy of Kitruk
via Creative Commons.
My mother celebrated her 80th birthday on October 29, and I flew home to surprise her at the party her friends were throwing her. Fortunately, I arrived on the 28th because the 29th, as those of you in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states know, brought a blizzard. My brother and his girlfriend live in northern Westchester County, which bore much of the brunt of the storm, but my brother and nephew had come into the city early to attend the MOGO (most good) workshop I was leading that day. My brother’s girlfriend, Freda, planned to come into the city in the afternoon.

Freda left her house at 2:30 p.m. and drove to the train station. She ended up spending three hours on that train. First a tree fell on the tracks, and while they waited for it to be removed another tree fell on the train. After awhile, Freda became quite popular, because she had her cell phone charger with her. Sitting with three other people, all eager to charge their phones, they got to know one another.  Eventually, the train backed up to the previous station where Freda’s car was parked.

The passengers were told that the trains were running from White Plains, south of them, into the city, but Freda was too anxious about driving in the blizzard. But one of the people she’d been sitting with said he was very comfortable driving in the snow and would be happy to drive her car and bring all of them to White Plains. He promised that if it was unsafe, he’d stop. And so this stranger drove the four of them to White Plains where they boarded another train. Freda shared that she was heading to a party that night. At this point she was frazzled, snow covered, and had no time to get properly dressed and coiffed, but one of these new friends happened to be a hairdresser. She had her scissors and brush and offered to cut Freda’s hair. Freda gratefully accepted. When they finally made it to Grand Central Station (seven hours after Freda left her house), they said their goodbyes, but not without exchanging emails. One was looking for a job, and Freda offered to help him.

Freda arrived at the party just as it ended, in time to give my mother her gift, looking quite lovely with her new haircut, despite the miserable, day-long effort to get there in a blizzard. And even though the day was a trial, it was also quite wonderful to have discovered that strangers can become friends, and people can help one another, and good can come when challenges strike.

For a kind world,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDx talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach"

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