I did a good deed this morning, and though on retelling it to others it sounds small and crappy. I stil felt good having done it.
After waking early this morning I decided that I’d swing by and see the kids early before heading in to town for a coffee. There’s no point getting to work early as I don’t have keys to get in, and no one ever gets in early, so I knew (wrongly as it turned out) that I had to be at work by 10am, meaning I needed to leave Chelmsford at around 9.00am, possibly 9.15am.
After drinking my coffee in town and reading a book that the kids had gotten me for Fathers Day months ago – “I didn’t know that about London” – which fascinated me and caused the hour I spent in Costa to fly by, I grabbed my bag and headed towards the car, which was parked near Mothercare and is the Easterly point of the town centre.
As I limped towards the car park, my knee still feeling the effects of last weeks badminton injury (why, oh why couldn’t it have been caused in a more manly way? “My knee? Oh, THAT! Yeah, I twisted it when I leapt into the road to save a toddler being hit by a truck…”) a woman stopped me. She looked in her early thirties, and was being followed by a boy who I guess was about 11 years old, dressed in a slightly too big school uniform which I’ve no doubt his mother had told him he would grow into.
“Excuse me,” she asked, “can you tell me how to get to the train station please?”
I could, and it took a great deal of resolve to not simply reply “why yes, I can…” and leave it at that. There was also an inclination to say “why yes, I can, simply follow that road over there all the way to the end, and when you see Tesco turn left.” Which would have led her in a massive circle and taken about 2 hours. Instead, though, I was in a decent mood.
“It’s left here, right at Starbucks and follow the road down. It’s about a mile away though.”
“Is it really? Oh God, we’re supposed to be at his school at 9.30!”
It was just gone 9am at this stage, and a walk to the station would take about 15 minutes. I asked her what school she needed to get to, and she said that she needed to drop her son to KEGS (King Edwards Grammar School) which is actually another ten minutes walk from the station.
“You’ll be pushing it in all honesty.” I told her, watching as she processed the information.
“I was going to park nearby, but I took a wrong turn and ended up here…”
She trailed off, lost in thought and worry.
“If you like,” I offered, “you can follow me and I’ll take you there?”
She looked stunned. I repeated the words in my head to make sure I hadn’t said something rude, or something undeliverable. No, they sounded ok.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t want to put you out of your way and we’ll probably able to get there ok if we walk fast.”
“It’s no problem, honestly, and although you’re right and you might make it by walking, there’s also every chance you won’t. The offer’s there – I’m quite happy for you to follow me in the car?”
And that’s what she did. Turns out, according to my car at least, it was 1.2 miles from the car park to the school. She got there with ten minutes to spare and looked thoroughly grateful, and I went off to work with a spring in my step, happy to have helped someone, even though now it sounds very inconsequential!