Feeling good about doing good

Walking through Heathrow airport towards the train into London, a woman heading in the opposite direction with an Australian accent and a large luggage trolley stopped me and asked me whether I was here on holiday or coming home. Whilst I felt in a bit of a rush to get the train, and my first reaction was to be a bit bothered by this intrusion, I immediately chastised myself for feeling this way as she reached into her pocket and offered me a still valid ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus in London. She told me that she had wanted to find someone to give it to and would be glad if I would take it and use it. Even though I already knew in that moment that I wouldn’t need it, as I was heading straight to Cambridge for a conference, I took it and thanked her warmly for having been so generous and kind. Why I did that I only considered once I was sat on the train. I had wanted to make the woman feel good about having done something good. If I had been in her position, I would have also wanted to pass on this ticket and not let it go to waste. I would have also wanted to have felt good about having done something good. With the said ticket in my pocket, destined to fail in serving its intended purpose of letting someone ride around London taking in the sights, I felt compelled to pass it on as well. Standing on the platform, I sized up a few people and asked two different men who I had thought were on their own and might have looked like tourists. They turned out not to be, but were thankful all the same for my offer. Once inside the train, I spent a few minutes working out whether the woman sitting next to me might be a tourist, and, after having seen her suitcase and caught sight of her texting in English (hence she would understand me and not think me some crazy woman who was offering something incomprehensible, both linguistically and culturally), I offered it to her. She told me that she was actually here on business, but that she had no plans for the next day, and would be glad to take the ticket. Maybe that was true, but maybe she also just wanted to make me feel good in having done some good. If she had rejected it, she would have had to sit next to me for the next ten minutes having rejected my kindness. Who knows what actually happened, and whether the ticket got to fulfil its destiny. What I do know however, is that people can be strangely lovely, and it is moments like these that make me feel good to be human. It’s good to feel good about doing good.

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