The kindness of strangers and their umbrellas

• ~400 words • 2 minute read

I feel like I've touched on this before but traveling makes me think about serendipity, the kindness of strangers and how little gestures can have grand impacts.

Today was a long travel day — I'm eyeing my bed as I type this, giving serious consideration to shutting this down and plopping down in it — starting around 7am in Detroit. I was leaving a wedding and making my way back to Portland by way of a couple buses and a couple planes.

The weather had been perfect the whole weekend but got a little rainy this morning. I waited for what looked like a dry patch, threw my bag on my back and went to go stand at the bus stop next to Chester's Chicken / liquor store combo and across the street from a Big Boy. (Dude, the midwest... I don't even know what to say. I am culturally west coast, through-and-through, and I confirmed it for myself this weekend. I genuinely loved visiting there, but I'm not sure I could live there.) As I stood there the rain came and went in patches. I heard a voice behind me.

"Sir," said a middle-aged sounding woman in a serious tone. I turned around. She was holding an umbrella out the driver-side door. My Oregon pride wanted to turn down the offering but I didn't even hesitate.

"Thank you."

"I know you'll be standing out there a long time." She smiled and drove off.

Despite the ominous foreshadowing for an extremely late bus and missed flights the bus came a short while later, but the umbrella came in extremely handy. The rain picked up and started coming down hard. By the time I got off the first bus to make my transfer — By the McDonald's, past the A&W, in case you were wondering — I started laughing at the thought of how soaked I'd have been without it.

The kindness of strangers makes the world go round and traveling, for whatever reason, has a way of making me more open and receptive to it. Maybe someday I'll figure out the secret to perpetually sustaining that openness to things; welcoming goodness into my life.