The Kindness of A Stranger

This weekend, at the National Achievers’ Congress 2012 in London, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of one man, Jeetender Singh.  I ended up being sat next to him on Sunday, and as we got to talking, he asked me if I had signed up to any of the three-day workshops the speakers were promoting.  I was honest, saying that I was a poor student, without even enough money to go and buy a coffee.  I hadn’t said this because I wanted anything from him, I was just being honest about the mothballs and shrapnel I had in my purse, during this time while Student Finance England process my student loan.  He also lent me his spare pen when I couldn’t find mine anywhere in my handbag.

After the next speaker, Jeetender left his seat.  In the row in front of me, I spied another friend I’d made on the Friday, Matt Joyce, and started to chat to him.  The woman sat next to him had left her seat so I climbed over and started chatting to Matt.

After the next speaker had concluded and people started to leave for the lunch break, Jeetender tapped me on the shoulder.  He asked me if I preferred ham or cheese.  I looked at him blankly and he asked again.  He then told me he had bought me lunch, and did I prefer ham or cheese.  I replied with cheese, and he handed me a paper bag with a sandwich in, as well as a lovely great muffin.

I was overcome with tears right there and then.  This guy, who didn’t know me, had bought me lunch, because he knew I was a poor student, as opposed to all the rich business types there, and because I had told him that I’d worked for the NHS for 12 and a half years, before handing in my notice so I could concentrate on my studies full-time (I’d previously done the first two years of my degree full-time, while working full-time).  He explained to me that his wife worked for the NHS as a Family Therapist, and that he could appreciate what I was going through.  He told me that when I made my first million, I could buy him lunch back.

I was so touched that someone had wanted to do something so nice as to buy lunch for someone who had no money.  I had brought my own food to the conference, and that day my lunch would have consisted of begging someone to give me some boiling water for my Starbucks flask, and filling it with Morrisons Value Chicken Noodles.  I had “liberated” some croissants and an apple from the hotel in which I was staying (well couchsurfing in the room paid for my life coach, Jon), and filling my bottle with water rather than spending the money I didn’t have on my usual liquid choice of Diet Coke.

I will always remember what Jeetender did for me that day, and one day I will buy him, and his family, lunch, as a thank you for that huge act of kindness that meant so much.

Feeding the needy…

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