What I learnt about gratitude from a stranger!


A recent bus journey with a stranger taught me a lot about gratitude. I was journeying home from central London on the bus and a very elderly lady got on. She seemed confused, was talking to herself and peering around. At first I thought she was looking for a seat but after offering she simply said ‘no thank you, I am trying to work out where I am’.

After exchanging a few words I sat down with her and tried to work out where she wanted to go – it turns out she had been given wrong instructions early in the afternoon and had been lost since! I assured her she was going in the right direction, knowing that her destination was a few stops away, and chatted with her until it was time for me to get off.

She has lived in London all of her life, she had been out for coffee that morning and she couldn’t recognise the way home as there has been so much development in her local area in recent months. Once she had relaxed after being assured she was heading home, she lit up! No longer confused she was both engaging and hilarious company! I was sorry to leave. When it was time to get off, she said ‘thank you for being the first person to be truly kind to me today’.

With that one sentence, she made me feel like I had really impacted her life and made her day better. She didn’t need to be elaborate with her gratitude. She didn’t use fifty words when fifteen said what she felt. She did however, stay in my thoughts for days afterwards. She had me wishing I had exchanged phone numbers with her. She has me hoping I see her again on the bus one day. And lastly, she has reminded me to continue to be open to helping others at every opportunity.

Sometimes, gratitude to donors who make small but wonderful changes in the world doesn’t need to be a big display or announcement. Sometimes, a simple ‘thank you for doing what you do’ is enough!

Have you ever been surprised by a gesture of thanks? Let me know in the comments!

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