While I'm on the subject of kindness, I must tell you about Michelle.
Michelle is a Kiwi. She lives in Edinburgh but weekly commutes to London. She (doesn't look old enough but nonetheless) has a 27 year old son who is still in New Zealand, who she hasn't seen in six years when he came over here for his twenty-first birthday.
She had the misfortune to be on a flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh about four weeks ago.
We were there. We were tired. We had been going, at this point, for about twenty two hours. The end of a wonderful holiday but with the inevitable delays, missed connections and more delays. No one was crying, but quite a lot of us felt like it.
Michelle started talking to the girls as we waited by the gate. They told her all about their holiday and their school and their family. She kept an eye on them while I nipped to the loo. (B was wrangling M, who was a little, shall we say, crotchety).
We said goodbye at the door of the plane (actually I ran back to say thank you, as they shoved us and our unruly children on first) and thought never to see her again.
As we waited for our bags at Edinburgh, tired, and by this stage pukey children slumped into the uncomfy chairs by the carousel, I heard someone calling my name.
It was Michelle, and a large carrier bag.
I bought these for the children, she said. They're not from New Zealand, but we'll pretend they are.
Four teddy bears. One each. For no reason other than that she was kind.
I did cry then. And hugged her. And we really will now never see her again.
But two of the bears are called Michelle, and one is Michael. The last is Thomas, but you can't have everything.
Europe road trip: Ticino, Switzerland
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