A few weeks ago, a Huff Post article To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store was circulating on my facebook news feed (spoiler: someone really needed to feed their kids but couldn’t, so a stranger bought them groceries. It was great). As I am among the .00001% of people under 75 years old who live without internet and like it that way, I didn’t get around to reading it until just now.
It made me think about the strangers I’ve met through out my life who have been kind to me without any benefit to themselves. Like the time I was living out of my car (voluntarily), when an aging hippie on a bike befriended me in the Walmart parking lot. He offered to let me use his house to shower and cook my meals if I wanted. I politely declined, but he bought me dinner anyway.
Or the time I was lost in DC at 4 in the morning in a bad neighborhood and unable to find my way back to my car. I was coming from a party and wearing a mini dress, feeling vulnerable and wishing I had brought my pepper spray. Out of the blue a taxi cab pulled over, even though it already had a fare in the back seat. “You look lost,” the driver told me, “and I wouldn’t want to be walking around at this time of night, if I were you. Want a ride?” I clambered in. The cabbie dropped off his other fare, then drove me to the right street and helped me find my car. For the life of him, he would not accept payment for the ride.
Or the time I was 19 years old and working at Coldstone Creamery. I was clad in a dorky black visor, my hair was a mess, and I smelled of burnt waffle cones. A girl my age walked straight up to me and told me I had a beautiful smile. I grinned the rest of the night.
An important thing to think about is how different types of privilege play into the kindness I receive from others. Did the cabbie find me more approachable because I am white? Did the man at Walmart offer to let me use his house because I am small and sound educated? How would my experience be affected if I was a person of color? If I was a heavier person? If I was trans*? Continue reading