When in Scotland, I was amazed at how friendly the people were, even in the big cities. If I was standing looking at a map, someone would stop and ask me if I needed help. They would try to make their accent less broad when I told them I didn’t understand. On my first day the bus driver made a detour to leave me right where I needed to be because I looked lost (and I was). One time I was standing in the rain waiting for the green light to cross, and someone naturally came to stand next to me so I would be protected by their umbrella !
I had never encountered such general kindness. Sometimes, just one nice individual is all you need to turn a bad day into a good one, and that’s exactly what happened to me once in Scotland.
I was waiting for a bus, once again under the rain, and I was a little bit worried already because I was coming to the end of my money earlier than was planned.
The bus stops in front of me and I get in first. I give the voucher to the driver. He takes one look at it and tells me it’s not valid. Turns out I had made a mistake with my reservation, it was the right time, right day, but wrong month. I explain to him that it was a honest mistake, and it’s quite obvious from my gear that I’m traveling and not about to try to take the same bus in three months.
The driver tells me (not very nicely) that either I pay again right now, or I stay behind and that’s it. The money he’s asking me is absolutely everything I have left. I beg, I know I look like I might start to cry anytime soon, plus I feel bad about holding the rest of the line behind me waiting in the rain, but the driver doesn’t care. In the end, I pay and take my seat, completely depressed and wondering how I’m gonna eat tonight.
The bus starts. Two minutes later, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn and find myself in front of a ten pounds bill. The couple behind me feels like the driver was a « complete ass » and wants to help out. I try to turn it down at first, but they insist and I take it. I’m not even done thanking them when someone else a few seats away discreetly leaves another ten pounds bill on the top of my backpack. I have now more money than I had before getting in the bus. I spend some time thanking everyone, and everybody in my section of the bus pitches in to ask if I’m alright, if I need more, and to abuse the driver.
« Because we, scottish, are usually nice ».
Well, yeah, I noticed.
In most other places, people would just have been mad at me for holding up the line.
What’s even more remarkable is that they didn’t made a show of helping. They could have given the money to the driver in front of everyone, attract attention to their good deed. But no, it was just for me.
I felt really good when I stepped off that bus. A little love and empathy can go a long way.
After basking for a month in Scottish kindness, the return to normal parisian life was a bit of a slap in the face. In the subway back, I was smiling, saying hello to people and everyone was looking at me like I was crazy. I’ve toned it down a bit since then, but I still feel like a nicer, more caring, person since that trip to Scotland.
THANK YOU, YOU DAMN SCOTS !