The Kindness of Strangers


They say Glasgow is the friendliest city in the world and what I have experienced in the first few hours of this day certainly supports that.

  • First was being asked how I am by the receptionist at the gym
  • then by the waiter upstairs while getting coffee
  • then I bump into a lady and turn and say sorry and as she said ‘it’s quite alright’ our hands met and we squeeze hands for an instant in a such a warm sincere way
  • then a lady bumps into me in the supermarket and says sorry and makes a funny joke about her big bum and we both laugh
  • I admired the nails of the lady at the checkout and ask where she got them done and she tells me she did them herself and I say ‘wow, well done they look great’, she is happy and the guy in the queue beside us laughs at the exchange we are having, all of us cheered up to be chatting away
  • then I am in the park and meet one of the park gardeners who stops to talk to me for over 20 minutes about his life, and another guy comes and we chat some more about the dog and this and that

All this within the first 2 hours of the day, and I must say, it really has set my day up in such a good way. I feel that the world is a safer and more friendly place. It soothed that threat detection system!

It got me thinking about the simple kindness of strangers and how kind people are, especially if we approach them with a smile and an open heart. The world reflects our own inner experience it seems.

I remember a friend about 20 years ago telling me how rude people are in Glasgow and I was perplexed by this as I had the opposite experience of just about everyone I come across. It was only when I saw him in action in a shop, being pretty serious and unsmiling and not expecting anything but unfriendliness, that I got to understand how this works. The guy behind the counter was not put at ease by my friend so was also slightly on guard and remained serious and unsmiling back. The experience did not energise either of them. A missed opportunity for both of them!

Had my friend gone into the shop with a warm smile and even a ‘how are you today’ he would have experienced something completely different. I regard everyone I meet as precious fellow fragments of the divine and deserve the utmost respect and reverence. I feel very little separation from them. I often ask those I come across ‘what kind of day are you having’ and mostly I get a ‘fine thanks’ back but often a little more. But they feel acknowledged, and not ignored. This is how I felt when I was asked this morning how I am the receptionist and waiter.

These small experiences can have a ‘pass it on’ effect too. If someone has a good experience with us, it might improve their day, might make them less likely to shout at their kid, might make them more friendly to the next person they meet. I am experiencing the effect of the kindness and warmth passed on to me today. Energised and gratitude to those people I am now experiencing and I like myself more when I see myself being friendly when I don’t have to be. It is a win win. This helps me deal with the more stressful stuff of the day. This is how resilience is built, in little small steps each day. Wonderful.

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