Never underestimate the kindness of strangers; if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past week, it’s that. The other day, as I trudged through the pouring rain towards the city centre, I couldn’t help but notice a man sitting outside my favourite café. He seemed at total odds with his environment: around him, everyone was hurrying to their destinations, hopelessly trying to avoid getting soaked, but there he was, casually sipping tea under the dodgy shelter of an awning, watching as the world rushed by around him.
“Beautiful day!” he grinned and waved to me as I passed.
“Glorious!” I called back and continued onward to my own destination.
My mood that day can only be described really as mediocre. I wasn’t noticeably sad anymore I was noticeably happy. However my mood swiftly degenerated to outright bitter.
Without going into too many details, I had an eye appointment which didn’t go too well. Long story short, it involved contact lenses and an optician that made me feel like I was the biggest idiot in the world. I came out of the shop angry, disappointment, bitter and of course feeling like a total simpleton.
It didn’t make things any better that I had arranged to meet my friend for dinner at two o’clock. I use the term “friend” very loosely here and she was the last person I wanted to vent to about my experience. God forbid she’d know something that didn’t go well for me! I hated the way she smiled and laughed when I fell on misfortune.
If I truly felt this way about her, why meet up with her at all you might ask. Well, we have a complicated history and it’s easier to be civil with each other than being enemies. And sometimes I do enjoy her company; it’s just when things go badly for me, she can be unbearable to be around.
I very nearly did not go to the restaurant to meet her. Like aforementioned, I didn’t want her making me feel even worse and taking comfort in my disappointment. Besides, I was 98% sure she wouldn’t show up anyway; she had a habit of cancelling our rendezvous without even a text to say she had cancelled. In the end though, it was that 2% that made me go; as tempting as it was to stand her up, I did not want to stoop to her level.
Again marching through the teaming downpour, I approached the restaurant and it came as no surprise when there wasn’t a sign of her. The man that I noticed earlier was still sitting outside.
“You’re still here so”, I smile at him. He looked to be his sixties, with greyish blonde hair tied back in a low ponytail and a goatee beard.
“I am indeed”, he replied. “And so are you I see. You look as cheerful as the weather. Bad day?”
“Something like that” and to my surprise I find myself telling him about my appointment. I hadn’t even noticed ten minutes had passed until he asked me if I wanted to join him for tea. I was a bit reluctant to be honest- I had never randomly had tea with a stranger before and I was still waiting for the other girl to turn up.
“Well, you’ve told me your story now and I would gladly tell you mine, if you’d like to hear it, ‘cept it’s a long one and you might not have the time. You’re sure you don’t want to hear it over tea?”
Again reluctant, but I won’t lie, I was curious about what his story was and I did have the time. I checked my phone one last time, but no text from her or anything. She wasn’t gonna show.
“Oh why not”, I grinned and I took the seat beside him after buying a mug of my favourite beverage. “So what’s your story then?”
I was looking through some old folders on my laptop and came across this piece that I wrote some time ago. This was back in my not-so-positive attitude days. Like in the story, I was having a pretty bad day, but that man did me a kindness as in, he listened to me. He had never met me before, but I felt so much better after that tea break. Not only that, but he had such a positive, laid-back attitude; the total opposite to how I was at the time. It was one of the first things that made me want to change my own attitude and pessimism. I used to spend so much time worrying about the silliest of things; somehow, that day made me realise I was spending more time worrying than actually enjoying life. Just funny how something so simple can really get you thinking.
Feel free to comment and to drink tea:)
Thanks for reading