Random Act of Kindness in Greece
Last night I was listening to a podcast about synchronicity and it reminded me of an old travel adventure. Synchronicity is defined by Wikipedia as the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. I can think of no better example of this than when my friend Jenn and I went to Greece in 2001 – the semester we were studying abroad in London.
We found cheap plane tickets to Athens so we decided to go for a long weekend. Well we were young and dumb and didn’t research before we went how we would get from the airport to our hotel. If you’ve ever flown into Athens you know the airport is quite a ways from the city center and being students we couldn’t afford a taxi for that distance so when we arrived at the airport we figured out that there was a bus that would take us to the city center and assumed we could just take a taxi from there. Our plane arrived at night and by the time the bus got to the city center it was after 10:00 pm. There were no taxi’s waiting like we thought and we didn’t have a cell phone. Everyone got off the bus and disappeared into the darkness and the next thing we knew my friend and I – two young girls – were standing there on the side of the road, in the dark, in a big city, in a country where we didn’t speak the language, and we had no idea where our hotel was or how to get there. There was this one lady who was on the bus with us who realized what was going on and asked us if we needed help. She used her cell phone to call us a taxi, told her friend that was waiting that she would be right back, got in the taxi with us, spoke to the driver in Greek, paid for the taxi, made sure we got in our hotel safely, and then was gone. We said thank you but the whole thing happened so fast that we were kind of stunned. We were completely blown away by her act of kindness and kept saying she must have been sent by our guardian angels and that we wished there was some way we could thank her but we didn’t even know her name.
After our long weekend we were at the airport eating breakfast at a cafe before our flight and we looked up and in line waiting to get her breakfast was the lady who helped us!! Jenn and I jumped up and ran over to her and thanked her over and over again and paid for her breakfast. How was it possible that in a city the size of Athens (see picture to the right) with all the hundreds of flights that come and go from there everyday that we were there on the same day, at the same time, in the same concourse, at the same cafe?!? Unbelievable! It felt so good to buy her breakfast and be able to thank her again and to this day (this happen over 10 years ago) I often think about that experience and the kindness of a stranger. It was late and she must have been tired and she could have easily just put us in a cab and said goodbye (or done nothing) but she left her friend and rode with us to make sure we got there okay and paid for it. A random act of kindness I will never forget!
Our first morning in Athens we woke up and looked out our window and there was a huge rainbow going over the Acropolis. Synchronicity happens all the time but it seems to always be more profound when I’m traveling. Do you have any stories of synchronicity in your life? Do you find that when you’re traveling you feel more connected to the people and places around you?