The Kindness of Strangers

Dear Readers, why, you might ask, is the blog featuring a rather unassuming-looking sandwich bar today? Well, I am in Dorchester, and it’s always hard – Dorset has so many memories of when Mum and Dad were alive. When I travel through Moreton station, I can almost see the pair of them standing on the platform waiting for my train to arrive, Dad would be in his zip-up jacket, Mum in some combination of bright fuchsia and turquoise and both of  them would be wearing  those photochromatic spectacles that go dark at the first sign of sunshine. They always reminded me of a pair of mature and successful bank robbers taking a break from Marbella. And now, no one waits for me at the station, and yet I always find myself looking for them, or for some trace of them.

So, by the time I get to the next station along, Dorchester South, I am often a little downhearted. And then there’s the walk past the care home where Mum and Dad spent their last months. I always pause to look up at the window on the third floor which was Dad’s room, as if I expect him to be watching for me, or at least for my bright red coat. Towards the end, I think he recognised the coat more than he did me, but I take comfort that he always knew that I was someone who was special to him for some reason, and someone who cared about him.

Today, I jumped on the train before I had a chance to buy any lunch, and all this remembering had made me hungry, so I stopped at the Pic-Nick sandwich bar. It’s tiny, really just a counter and a space to wait, but the man working there made me a massive ham and mustard roll (for some reason my vegetarianism goes right out of the window here). And then, he asked me if I wanted any salad.

“No thank you”, I said. I always feel as if I need all the carbohydrates and fat that I can get.

And he hesitated, and then he said “Oh, go on, have some iceberg lettuce at least, it’s good for you, and we all need the vitamins. It’s not any extra”.

And I thought, you know what, I do need the vitamins. I never thought of myself as being a disordered eater, but just lately I do wonder. It’s as if I can make the effort to make healthy meals for other people, but when it’s just me I don’t bother.

He was waiting for me to make a decision.

“Yes, please”, I said, and he looked so delighted that I felt as I’d done him a favour, instead of the other way round.

Why should a complete stranger care about someone else’s health? And care enough to risk a rebuff? What a lovely man. And it was the most delicious roll that I’ve had in a long time (and a lot cheaper than the equivalent would have been in London).

And so, if you are ever in Dorchester and looking for a sandwich, I can recommend the Pic-Nick on Allington Street, just round the corner from the Tutankhamun exhibition and the art shop. And if I was you I would definitely include some salad, because we all need some more vitamins.


10 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. chrisswan94

    This post struck several chords with me. I have not returned to where my late parents moved to when they retired but we moved them finally to live opposite us in a little bungalow in their final years. Mum loved it, Dad hated it. I”m in the process of getting it ready for sale and whenever I go over to do more clearing, my heart sinks. These were not happy times: Dad’s dementia and Mum’s stroke are all I see.
    Unfortunately, I now have another load of painful memories since my beautiful daughter passed away, aged just 26, two weeks ago. I am writing but I can’t publish it yet. It’s too personal and painful. However, I recognise your sentiment here regarding your parents so thank you for expressing them so beautifully.

  2. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    He was obviously a person who very much enjoyed his job and cared about his customers. And it just goes to show that a little kindness can go a long way to enhancing not only your own well being, but that of others.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      So true, Mike! It makes such a difference when someone is ‘gratuitously kind’. And I’m sure it ripples out. I was definitely softened by his kindness, and so more likely to notice others than if I’d been stuck in my own little bubble.

  3. Ann Bronkhorst

    And he must be called Nick. As you say, a lovely man. I doubt if this moment was a one-off, though. Chances are, he does little kindly things like this quite often, maybe attuned to people’s unexpressed needs.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I’m sure you’re right, Ann – some people just seem to be attuned to others, as you say, and he was one of them. I shall go in and buy another sandwich tomorrow.

  4. Amanda

    Lovely lovely post – in so many ways – but I particularly loved your description of your mum and dad as bank robbers on a break from Marbella. Hilarious. Love the blog always although I have never said so before. The only one I allow in my inbox. Thank you.


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