Harriet Walker: 'An act of kindness has forced me to reconsider my New Year resolutions'

Share
Related Topics

At the risk of coming over all Blanche DuBois, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. From the man who once saved me from the escalator's teeth when I fainted on the Underground, to the lady who explained how to work the unfathomable Berlin train ticket-bot without me even asking her, I owe them all a big thank-you.

I mention it only because we're all casting around for resolutions at the moment, and being nice to people I don't know strikes me as something easy to stick to and karmically useful.

I left my phone in a cab last week, only to have it returned the next day by a lovely man who then flat-refused to accept any sort of reward. "Oh, I didn't do it for the money," he insisted, horrified, as I tried to thrust a wad of banknotes into his hands. I felt like the crass oaf who offends his foreign hosts by tipping them or clearing his plate. The currency of kindness is one I'm quite unfamiliar with – I end up doling out far too much at once and looking insincere, or scrimping over it miserishly in case it runs out before the next pay cheque.

Earlier that day, I'd signed off a text (from a friend's phone) to the man with five kisses, before realising my mistake and sending another, more nonchalant, one to apologise. He must have thought I was schizophrenic.

"Your gloves are very big, aren't they?" he said when we finally met. He was right: my gloves are very big. They are furry mittens that could double as oven gloves for a bear. People snigger at them as if they're vestigial parts of a costume I have forgotten to take off. A friend refers to them as my "megagloves", which is fine by me, as I think they hide how big my hands are.

I had warned the Good Samaritan in an earlier message I'd be wearing them and that I was blonde. I'll never get over how flagrant a lie it is for me to describe myself as blonde, when I'm really muddy brown. Anyway, the description worked, he gave me my phone and waived his finder's fee, and I waved him off with a big furry hand.

I was amazed by how easy it had been, not only to get back my phantom limb, but to interact with a person I had no reason to be speaking to. I later found out on Facebook that we had a friend in common from university. "Oh, of course he returned it nicely like that," my caustic flatmate said. "He's One of Us, isn't he?" To clarify, she means he has a nice voice, wears shirts with jumpers and probably watches rugby on TV; she means it's likely I've sat next to him in a gastropub. But there's still a thrill in knowing that not everyone out there is predisposed to hate or disregard you. Or laugh at your gloves.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series