So, I am VERY late for yesterday’s Daily Prompt, but felt that I couldn’t resist telling my story, because it really is such a wonderful one that goes to show the human kindness of absolute strangers.
With every bus that came in, I was bouncing up and down in my seat, hoping that this would be the one. Over the 12 months that I had been in South Korea, this was the first time that a bus had been late, and of course it was the most important bus of all – the bus that was taking me home. Or part of the way there, anyway.
Almost two hours late, and burdened down by far too many cases for a person of my small stature, I arrived in Seoul and started the race to the last subway train that would be heading in Incheon. The biggest bag I have ever owned trails behind me with 20kg of clothing and memories shoved inside, a rucksack filled with books is slung over one shoulder while my giant handbag (filled with odds and ends that couldn’t fit into either of the others), my laptop bag and my camera bag are slung over the other. I am burdened down by far too much stuff, but I can’t bear to leave any of it behind. I have already sent 4 boxes home with the items I can live without until Winter – these are the things that I can’t bear to live without until then. Clearly they don’t have the same attachment to me though, as the strap snaps over my shoulder with a loud and rather painful pop and sends my books plummeting to the ground. Without a spare hand, I am stranded, tears rolling down my cheeks, trying my best to push the case down the corridor and knowing that I will never make it on time.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see a man approaching me, the first that I have seen in a long while (clearly the midnight train to Incheon is not particularly popular). He sweeps past one side of me, his arm outstretched, grabbing hold of my bag without letting his speed relent. I stop in my tracks, my heart rate rising, staring after him incredulously. And then he turns back and motions for me to follow him as another helping hand (the first one’s girlfriend) grabs the second suitcase from my hands. We run together, a rush of energy overcoming me now that I am unburdened of my 30kg of luggage, and we make the train with seconds to spare.
Relieved beyond words and with my heart rate finally slowing, my two saviours motion for me to take the seat beside them and I do so gladly. In broken English, they ask where I’m going and I proudly tell them that I am heading home after one of the most wonderful and difficult years of my life. They smile at my stories and listen intently, never letting on how bored they must be.
“Where are you staying,” they ask, and I tell them the hotel’s name. They nod, knowingly, clearly knowing the place. “How are you getting there?”
I explain that I am going to need to find a taxi – not a small feat at this time of the night – and their attitude changes as they start talking to each other quickly, making phone calls and getting visibly frustrated. After the last call, the man puts down his phone, sliding it into his pocket and turns back to me with the same welcoming smile on his face.
“We’ll take you,” he announces.
And so, when I arrive at the station, my bags are grabbed once again and piled into a waiting car. I don’t get a chance to object, but my mind is so frazzled from the trip that it only dawns on me as we drive into the never-ending darkness that these people could be taking me absolutely anywhere and I would be none the wiser. No one would know where I had gone – I would just disappear into the depths of Incheon never to be seen again. It would have been the perfect opportunity to do so – I had no cellphone, had told them that no one was expecting me.
And yet, it never crossed their minds. As we arrived at the hotel and I hopped out of the car, my belongings in tow, they followed me in and double checked that I had a booking. Once they had confirmed that everything was sorted out, they each gave me a giant hug, thanked me for my company and were on their way.
If it hadn’t been for two strangers who were kind beyond words, I don’t think I would have made it to Incheon, and I certainly would have missed my flight back home. I owe them everything, and will never forget the kindness that can come when you least expect it.