My debit card expired at the end of last month and although I received a new one in plenty of time, I continued to use my old card right up until the day it expired. I like to live on the edge! The letter that accompanied my new card said there was no need to register it and I could use it straight away. What it didn’t say, or maybe it did and I just didn’t skim read it properly, was that contactless wouldn’t work on London transport until I had first used the card in a chip & pin device.
So there I was one morning, on my way to work and waiting for a bus in the freezing cold. I was carrying my laptop bag, a carrier bag for my homemade lunch, and a handbag for my phone, purse, keys and kindle. The bus was late, but I was feeling pretty relaxed about it as my train was also running behind. Saying that, it was a big relief when the bus did eventually arrive as my feet had almost frozen to the spot. I removed a glove and held it in my teeth as I located my new debit card and tapped it on the card reader. Not authorised. I tapped it again. Not authorised.
“Cash?” I offered, through the glove.
The bus driver shook his head impatiently and asked me to get off the bus. There was no way I wanted to get off the bus, but I could sense that the driver was in no mood to negotiate so I collected my bags and was about to step back onto the pavement when I heard the card reader beep in a much happier tone. I looked up and a lovely lady had paid my fare! I was so touched by her kindness that I gushed a hundred thank yous and burst into tears.
I fumbled around in my purse and offered her cash to repay the price of my bus ride, but she refused to accept it. Instead, she smiled and asked me to pay it forward.
It was such a simple gesture and one that could only have come from someone with the kindest of hearts.
For the rest of the week, I kept my eye out for a stranger in need of a ticket, a coffee, or a helping hand. I held doors open, let people go in front of me in line, donated to charity, and gave the right of way to a car even though the driver cut me up and flipped me the bird. I have yet to find a stranger in need of a bus ride, but it’s half-term so maybe I will when I am back at work next week. However, being more aware of the people around me, slowing down to wish them a good morning, pausing to let them go ahead of me, and just smiling as I pass people on the street, has made me feel happier.
And, then I realised something that the lady on the bus already knew. Kindness makes you happy… and happiness makes you kind.