The evening was uneventful; I said goodnight and went to bed. I greeted my spouse in the morning as I was leaving for work. My spouse responded with negativity and pettiness to bait me. I ignored it, and all hell broke loose. Thank God my youngest had already gone to school. With each step I took, my spouse got louder. Ok, I was nervous. He was on my heels as I grabbed my lunch from the fridge. I was scared with him behind me. I walked out the door; my spouse followed me, yelling and cussing me out all the way to my car so the neighbors could hear. I got in my car, locked the doors, and saw the crazed look on his face. You know the saying: if looks could kill. I drove to the bus terminal, parked, cried, and missed my bus. I was shaking. I tried to make sense out of the senselessness. What am I being punished for now, maybe my mere presence sets him off, or what marbles did he lose between the time he went to bed and the time he got up.

I thought I was used to the trauma; I’m not.  Last year I would have called in sick before I got to the bus terminal, defeated. I felt demoralized but decided to catch the next bus and go to work. The bus wasn’t crowded; I found a seat, cried, and looked out the window. As I approached downtown, I got my stuff together, looked at my compact mirror, and was horrified. My eyes were red and swollen, my lips dry, and my face looked sad, old, and tired. I looked like I felt–ugly and didn’t have time to fix myself. I got off the bus and started slowly walking to my building. This kind-looking, slender older lady, nicely dressed, holding a briefcase, walked-up next to me and gently tapped my elbow, made eye contact, smiled, nodded at me, and said: you have a good day. I thanked her. She went on her way, walking ahead of me. My eyes watered. I got to work, went to the bathroom, exhaled, collected myself, and thought: Wow, she was nice…the kindness of strangers.

Everything about this stranger was kindness personified. A Godsend. Her soft touch emitted warmth and support, reminding me to hang in there. Her voice was sweet yet firm, encouraging me to focus on having a good day. Her bright brown eyes revealed she was empathetic and compassionate. Her understanding nod acknowledged my struggle.  That stranger saw me in all my pathetic-ness, and I felt seen.

The kind stranger connected with me verbally, physically, and emotionally. We made a connection; she gave, and I received. I was affected by her kindness. My spirits were lifted, and I felt optimistic. The encounter was brief, but her kind words went a long way and carried the day. Kindness was the antidote to my dreadful morning. I had a good day, and on my way home, my spouse called to apologize. I felt generous and accepted it. I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers. It makes me want to pay it forward and extend kindness to strangers or anybody having a bad morning, noon, or night.