Welcome to 2TheHeart!
If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, and most of all yourself.
-- A. Neilen
I am thrilled to welcome a new writer to 2TheHeart! David is from Scotland and this story completely stole my heart. I look forward to reading more from him!
FROM A FLOOD TO A HUG by David McLaughlan
The late evening train from Glasgow was battling the worst of the winter weather and the driver was proceeding more on hope than anything. Weeks of rain had meant the line might or might not be flooded - and he wouldn’t know until he got there!
Well, it was flooded. So he backed up to the nearest station where we sat and waited to see if there would be a replacement bus service. We sat there for about half an hour with no one knowing what was going on. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t going home to anyone, I had music to listen to and it wouldn’t be the first night I had slept on a train. But not everyone would be in that position.
Then the lights went out.
Still there was no announcement. We sat another half an hour then the driver announced he was taking the train back to Glasgow and anyone who didn’t want to come with it should get out now.
So a train load of people decanted onto a rain lashed platform. The station was closed, the only cover was a bus shelter and the little country town seemed closed for the night. I was maybe twenty miles from home, some folk had further to go.
Wandering outside the station I spotted a taxi. I was about to jump in and head off, but amongst the crown I’d noticed a young woman with a baby that looked only weeks old. I asked her if she wanted to share the cab. She didn’t have enough money she explained, but she could pay when she got home.
No problem. No one else seemed keen to share the cab. Maybe the didn’t like the look of me, which made it all the more remarkable that this young woman would.
In the silence of the journey I thought some more about the chance she was taking and how it was a measure of her need to get her baby home. I couldn’t help but hope that if ever my wife and child were in a similar position someone would be decent enough to take care of them.
Nearing home I asked the driver to stop. I could walk the mile from here. He should take the mother and baby straight home, and I gave him enough money to cover the full fare for both of us.
He called me a gentleman and shook my hand.
A year later I was married and going to a dance with my wife. Guess which taxi driver turned up! Seems his name was Davie. He remembered that night and he spent the whole trip telling my wife what a righteous fellow I was. I just sat there while my head got bigger and bigger.
The next time I met Davie it was Christmas Day. A busy time for taxi drivers, and a time when they charge double fare! I had some young fmily members to get to the next town and gave them money for the fare. Davie saw them safely there - and didn’t charge them a penny! Time and again he reduced or waived fares for us - to the point where we would almost fall out because of it. Almost, but not quite.
Some time later I was in Davie’s cab and he seemed a little sombre. It turned out his mother had cancer and probably didn’t have long to live.
Well, I thought about it, and put it off, and thought about it, and put it off. What would folk think? Would I look sissy?
Eventually I swallowed my embarrassment, gathered my courage and presented myself at the sheltered housing complex with a bunch of flowers. Putting up with the enquiring looks of friends and staff I was led to the room of a poor soul I had never met before.
I can only imagine what she must have thought of this strange man standing nervously in her bed room.
I stammered out that I knew Davie, he’d mentioned she wasn’t feeling too good and I wanted to bring her these flowers. Oh, and by the way, she’d raised a son to be proud of.
If I’d put it off much longer I would have been too late. The lady passed away the next day.
Standing awkwardly (again) at the graveside I tried not to be too conspicuous amongst a bunch of folk I didn’t know. Then Davie, a man I had know only through a few taxi journeys, walked through the crowd and wrapped me in a bear hug.
He’d been to see his mum just before she died. And hadn’t seen her so happy for a long time. She told him she’d spent her life raising her children, then, at the end of it all, a stranger came along and told her she’d done a good job. What more, she asked Davie, could a mother want?
And he cried. And I cried.
And the point of all this. Well, maybe it’s that we west of Scotland men, just don’t do all that hugging and crying in public stuff. We’d started off with a problem on that cold wet night far from anywhere. We could have stuck to the stereotype and gruffly complained, cursing the rain and the train and our football team for losing. But we didn’t. We both added kindness into the mix.
And now we were hugging in public!
Kindness sounds soft, it sounds "sissy". But its a powerful force. What else could take you from a flood to a hug?
David McLaughlan copyright 2008
David McLaughlan is a Scottish laddie who always dreamed about being a writer. Now he is and he just hopes no one wakes him up! To see more of the world the way David does, please visit - http://www.myspace.com/wayfarerstales