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helping strangers

Receiving Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone is capable of cynicism. We can all have days when we are disgruntled and down and have a hard time seeing the good in people. However, if we pay attention, there will come a time when our faith in the goodness of people is restored.

Now this may not sound like a big deal, so I will begin by putting these events into perspective. My family and I have been in Germany for a little over a week. Most of the time we have spent with our tour group. The time we have spent on our own, we have relied on my limited German vocabulary and the kindness of the German people. It is still a little scary being somewhere that the language is unfamiliar, the customs are different and you have no frames of reference for where you are. Neuschwanstein CastleOn the day our group visited the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle, we had tickets to attend the Bayern Munich soccer game. Neuschwanstein is about 2 hours from Munich and the game started at 3:30P.M., so we knew it would be a logistical challenge. However we found out that we would be travelling to the castle early in the morning and that the town of Fussen was close by and had train service to Munich. Problem solved.

After a tiring day of travel, figuring out where to switch trains, etc. we finally arrived at Munich’s central station. Not being sure where to go, I’m sure the three of us looked like a group of confused kids on the first day of high school, wide-eyed and vulnerable. Fortunately a young man saw us and asked where we were going. After explaining that we were headed to the Bayern Munich match, which he enthusiastically approved of, he pointed us in the right direction, hopped on the train with us, got off at the next stop, and disappeared.

Next as we stood blankly staring at the ticket distribution machine, we were approached by an older gentleman who calmly explained how to purchase an all day family pass for half the money we would have spent had he not helped us.We were finally able to reach our train and arrive at our destination on time, excited, and ready for a wonderful afternoon of soccer.At the Bayern Munich GameAs we settled into our seats to enjoy the game, we were able to completely immerse ourselves into the experience. The crowd was singing and chanting, the stadium was beautiful, the weather was sunny and nice. When the half time whistle sounded we realized that we were hungry and had to go to the restroom.

As at any other sporting event in the world, the concession stands and bathrooms were packed at half time. The girls headed to the toilet and I got in the refreshment line. We hadn’t eaten all day, so this was important business. It seemed like I had chosen the slowest line possible but I was able to keep my cool. When I finally got to the front I confidently placed my order in perfect German. However I was rejected. Apparently at Allianz Arena, the only way to make a purchase is to use a “stadium card” which is sold outside. For a second I was completely dejected. Not only had I spent the entire half time in this line, I would receive NO payoff in the end.But my disappointment only lasted a second.

Apparently the lady ahead of me in line was paying attention to my situation. She stepped up to the machine and told me that she was going to cover my charge. I tried to pay her in cash, but she wouldn’t accept it. I was absolutely blown away.

Three times that day complete strangers in a foreign country came to my aid. Three times. When I think of how many times I have gotten impatient or frustrated with someone who didn’t understand me or held up a line because they didn’t understand English it makes me sick. This story will forever be a reminder to me that there are always more sides to a story than I can possibly be aware of. It will also remind me to be quicker to offer my help. This day had a serious impact on my perspective. I hope it helps you as well.

B.T.W. Bayern Munich won on Saturday 4-2, it was a great day! Auf Wiedersehen!