Home » Monday Meeting » Monday Meeting – A Letter to the Strangers on the Train…

Monday Meeting – A Letter to the Strangers on the Train…


The most important thing is to say a huge thank you. What an insubstantial way to express something so big, but thank you all the same. Your compassion made the bleakest moment of my life strangely inspiring too.

Now, when I think back to that awful moment when I heard that Dad had died, I don’t just recall the horror and how hard it was to comprehend, I also remember being overwhelmed by your kindness. I remember the strangers who somehow came together and supported me. Despite being so bereft and alone, I also felt so safe.

It still surprises me what a shock the news was. After all, we’d been expecting it for several years. Or perhaps we’d just been expecting it for so long that when it happened, it seemed as much of a shock as if it really had come out of the blue.

Some parts I remember very clearly. I remember making a phone call in the train carriage to my sister in A&E, then hearing myself say “He hasn’t died, has he?” I remember the long, long pause as my sister tried to respond, her silence telling me everything I didn’t want to hear. I remember the absurd mutual assurances that followed (“Of course I’m OK. You?”) and making eye contact with the woman across the aisle.

It’s blurry after that. Someone got me water. Someone helped me to control my breathing and headed off a panic attack. Someone (perhaps the same person?) assured me that I was only shaking so much because I was in shock – something I’d entirely missed at the time.

Staff were fetched and, along with some of you, my fellow passengers helped me into to an empty first-class carriage. My bag was packed for me, my hand held and my back rubbed all the way on that long, slow walk down the train. People then sat with me, helped me to work out who I needed to call and how to work the phone. No one flinched when I said I thought I needed to puke, though I’m glad I didn’t need to test this kindness any further.

Crucially, everyone then left me when I said I wanted to be left – albeit keeping a close eye on me from the next carriage. One passenger – or was it two? Or three? – even came back to check on me several times during the rest of the journey, asking if I wanted company or privacy.

The railway staff were amazing. They were young but responded with such maturity. I was given hot, sweet tea and made to drink it. Before I found out that a family member had been dispatched to meet me off the train, they even arranged for a taxi to ensure I wouldn’t have to get across London by myself.

When the train finally reached its destination, they gave me food for the onward journey and carried my bags, holding my hand and steering me through the crowds until I was safely passed over to my brother-in-law. They refused my clumsy attempt at a tip, and I really hope that my similarly clumsy letter of profuse thanks a few weeks later reached them.

As for my fellow passengers, I don’t know how many of you stepped up to help me that day. It felt as if there were hundreds but there may have been just a few. I know I’d never recognize any of you again. I’ll never be able to express how grateful I was. And how sorry to all those others on the train who weren’t directly involved but whose previously uneventful journey I disturbed with my distress.

Someone more emotionally controlled than me, might have handled the situation differently but I think that in moments such as this you simply react. Instinct and my general faith in the kindness of strangers made me take a risk and reach out. I’m so glad I did. (Most) people are amazing.

by Anonymous

Source: The Guardian

Blog: The Kindness Blog

13 thoughts on “Monday Meeting – A Letter to the Strangers on the Train…

  1. Humanity is alive and well. It would not have been an easy thing to go through in that situation. But in touching the hearts of others in that circumstance, and be touched back is a beautiful thing to feel and witness. It always confirms our faith within that there is love in the world. Namaste

  2. So sorry for the loss of your Dad, but how wonderful to hear that in your hour of distress you had people that reached out to you with kindness and sympathy. I am sure your Dad had something to do with that day, he made sure that his little girl was cared for. His essence and love for you will always be there. We all pass over, but we are and always will be with our loved ones,
    I lost both my parents but I carry their heart, I carry it in my heart, Bless you. :o)

    • Dear Patricia – This letter was written by someone else, but I like to think it could have happened to me. I lost my Dad 2 years ago, and your words bring me great comfort. Blessings to you, always… Theresa

  3. Human beings are very much capable of swinging to both the extremes – Goodness as well as Evil. The letter does not surprise me at all, have myself experiences the kindness of total strangers as well as offered my support to strangers whenever the opportunity came.

    Finally it just comes to that split second where we have to take that call, which path we wish to take. And we take the path that we feel is right, based on our own experiences, education and the family value system that has raised us.

    It is totally unrelated but sometime it is also the way we see the things that makes a huge difference.

    Recently there was a feel good article in Washington Post about a person in India drawing some paintings in the Correction Facility where he is currently kept at. The attempt of the writer/paper may have been to make people look at the transformation that may happen inside peoples. But I myself and a huge number of people in India who knew the realities of the case felt nauseated by the news. The person in this case not only committed one of the most heinous crime I have known in my life – he was the leader of a gang which raped a girl in the middle of New Delhi inside a moving car, tortured the girl while she was trying to resist the rapist, he not only raped the girl but also put a steel rod inside her to mutilate her while she was alive and then told his partners in crime to “throw the bitch and kill her”. The girl died on the road of the capital city of India, the whole country and the people around the world outraged. The culprits where caught, one of them committed suicide in the prison. But the main culprit, the person who mutilated the girl and killed her by throwing her out proved in the court of law that he is 6 month short of adulthood (18years) and hence can not be tried as a normal criminal as per the Indian justice system. He was treated as juvenile, just a kid. Was sentenced mildly (3 years) in a facility where young kids, mostly those who run away from their home and are arrested by police for petty crimes are kept. It is here that the journalist from Washington post caught up with him, was impressed by his painting and put in the paper. And guess what, he has painted Women and flowers…and guess what, he will be out on the streets again in less than a year…


    • I followed the link you provided and read the article, and can’t help but think that those who feel the “boy” is rehabilitated because he paints pictures and cooks meals are sadly mistaken. I hope I am wrong, and that when he is released, he will spend the rest of his life righting the horrific wrong he participated in with the adults. Perhaps Indian law will require that of him upon release?

      You are right – we all have the capacity to choose the dark or the light, but I am convinced most of us choose the light. And as long as there are those of us who always try to do the right thing as we know it, and as our conscience dictates, we can change the world for the better, one person at a time.

      I see how many struggle with what is justice in this particular incident, and appreciate your thoughts on this. I send you my gratitude and blessings…

      • I am afraid you are right as far as the mistaken belief is concerned. It is just a sham, which leftist/Liberals in India use to get the anti-social elements off the hook. Sadly the India law does not have any provisions to control the actions of this ‘boy’ once he is out of the juvenile home. Another Hannibal type mass murder of children who ate them after killing was suppose to be hanged yesterday, but the Supreme court of India, who has millions of pending cases, showed real urgency by meeting in the middle of the night (01:30am) to postpone the punishment and restart the mercy petition hearing once again.

        The last decade or so has been very depressing here in India, at time me and my wife felt like moving out of the country to give our kids a better future away from all this madness, but then we have such strong emotional bonds with the place we were born and people that we grew up with, that we didn’t even more to a different city within India.

        I too strongly believe in the inherent goodness inside the heart of all human beings. It is just that the darkness gets the attention of media more than the light. Pick-up any newspaper or magazine, you will see more bad news than the feel good kind of stories. Being a good person is kind of okay, while being Bad makes one something special it seems. It seems now all that matters is success as an end result, people do not bother about the paths – the right or wrong choices they may be making.

        For me it is the path which is the most critical aspect of our life. Its not the goal that we achieve but rather they way in which we achieve it – that is more important.

        Thank you for such a thought provoking post. And apologies for side tracking to totally different issues.

      • You are so right when you say it is not the goal, but rather the way in which we achieve it, that matters. You and your family are a shining light in the darkness for all to see. Blessings.

  4. Thank you Theresa for sharing a most difficult moment.
    Deep down we know the world is OK if at a moment like this there are those that compassionately step forward to do unto another as they would hope would be done unto them. It is a wonderful validation of the command by Jesus to love your neighbor, as yourself.

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