The Kindness Of Strangers: Volume 1…

Remember meeting Daniel when you read his interview? Well he’s only gone and written his first post for us! Read on for his hilarious ramblings about the day everything went to shit, only to be helped out from the pit of despair he was wallowing in by a kind stranger…

The other day I was the recipient of some really good fortune. Some greying, beardy fellow upstairs was working overtime to ensure that, despite displaying clinical stupidity, I did not lose my wallet on a bus. As a result of the kindness of one stranger I have been prompted to think about all the times in my life abroad when I have been at the faeces-free end of that grubby, grubby stick.

In short, I got too excited after having discovered a new route home. I have just started my final year of a Masters and since the end of last year, I have moved. This was my first day back. I was excited. I had purchased new folders. My rucksack was FRESH. And upon discovering a new and substantially quicker way home, I lost myself. And nearly my wallet.

What ensued was a cross-city bus chase that took as its actors, me, two buses, a bemused but friendly man on the other end of the phone and 30 minutes of my life. Never before have I felt so pleased to live in Hong Kong, a place famed for its high population density but efficient public transport system. I feel that I must come clean and make an admission: I love transport. My first word was ‘bus’ and I have always enjoyed buses, trams, trains, planes you name it, I’ll be transported by it. So what follows was akin to being punched in the face by your favourite pet…

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Image taken by Daniel Bartholomew

Anyway, I disembarked, immediately realised that I had left the wallet on the seat, slapped all available pockets multiple times as if performing a Georgian mating dance, panicked, forgot to regulate my breathing, and then something remarkable happened.

Blissfully unaware of the caricature I had become on the pavement by the bus-stop, a stranger intuited my problem and approached me with a single $10 coin in his hand. This is about 80p. He said this is all he had but that I should take it. Now I’m never one to look a gift horse in the mouth and so I accepted and said thank you. Still, I was not entirely sure what good it would do me as it was at least $20 to get home. And I would still be without a wallet.

I am not ashamed to say that I dithered for a bit. But this, and the stranger’s intervention, proved to be the best thing that could have happened. The bus that pulled in was not just the same route as the motorised thief that was thundering away into the distance carrying my worldly presence, but the EXPRESS version. The one thing I love more than transport, is EXPRESS transport.

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Image taken by Daniel Bartholomew

With a Gallic shrug and a faint film narrative in mind, I took a punt and got on. It was $7. They terminated at the same place. 5 minutes had elapsed since Bus Zero had departed. The chase began.

All that needed to happen now was for me to somehow alert someone at the terminus that I’M ON MY WAY, and PLEASE BE KIND.

I didn’t have a contingency either and Hong Kong buses are not the sort to give change. I had, quite literally gambled everything on route 970X. After 20 minutes of frantically gripping onto the bar of the upper deck window, with wild eyes and a clenched jaw, I saw that we were behind the Bus of Plenty and the back end of a bus had never looked so good, sitting there buzzing away as if teasing me with its bluff behind.

Do I get out at the lights, make a dash and try and jump on the first one? What if the lights change, 4 lanes of traffic kick off and I’m stranded in the middle like Rihanna in Shut up and Drive. I stayed put, holding both myself and my bum cheeks together. Just.

After arriving at the terminus, which, naturally was in an abandoned housing estate, I emerged from the bus like a Selfridges had just opened on Boxing Day. 4 surly drivers were loitering and smoking and judging me. They were also helpful, and they all pointed towards what looked like a glorified port-a-loo. It was there. I was safe and I gibbered my thanks to the bemused man who was diligently logging the contents into a ledger which in turn prevented me from logging some contents of my own.

Although not the first time that my fortunes have been altered by one small gesture, it was the first that prompted me to realise just how many of my experiences abroad have been graced by chance. Come back soon to see where the Kindness of Strangers takes me next…

hong kong

Image taken by Daniel Bartholomew

Want more Dan in your life before his next installment? Then go and check him out on Instagram and Twitter!

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