The Kindness of Strangers


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I am not sure whether it’s the culture of those who live in the country to help a person out or not. For those of you who read last month’s article, Network of Support Back In The News, you’ll know my car broke down recently, in the middle of nowhere (metaphorically speaking).

After I had called for Roadside Assistance, during the first hour of waiting for the mechanic, two people stopped to ask if I was OK and whether I needed any help. Between my assumptions about what was wrong with the car and their mechanical aptitude, their offers were more about checking I was OK or offering me a lift to the nearest town. As you may know you have to stay with your car to wait for Roadside Assistance.

What was interesting, upon reflection, was how delighted and supported I felt when some stopped just to check I had everything as under control as possible. And that I did not, until the time of writing, think about the multiplicity of people who passed me by in the same hour without stopping. Maybe they didn't notice my bonnet up. Maybe they were having one of the worst days of their life. Maybe they assumed I’d already called for assistance and there was nothing more they could do to help. Maybe they didn't care about the stranger and her broken down car.

Again, I had the opportunity to notice the difference that the resilience building strategies I preach and practice supported my ability to wait calmly. After the advised wait time was up I called to check I was still on the list. I was. But after 65 minutes I was told that due to a particularly busy day I would have to wait another 240 minutes. That’s 4 hours to save you doing the maths! It was already 4.30pm and I did not fancy being 30 centimetres off the Pyrenees Highway in a black car in the dark, hoping they didn't push that wait out even further.

Fortunately, there was one more caring stranger, called Brian, who took the time to pull over. This time the universe conspired for good. I’d worked out what the problem was and that a strong hand and a Philips head screw driver were all that were needed to re-attach the wayward hose. My appropriately equipped rescuer undertook the repairs required and saved me from an interminably long and potentially unsafe situation. In parting I said to Brian that I hoped he didn't mind me being forward, being a stranger and having just met but, I loved him! You should’ve seen his eyes light up!

So here’s the mind health link… what would your life be like if the occasional stranger, when noticing your difficulty or distress, offered to help you? And, what could our society and the human race be like if when noticing a stranger in difficulty or distress we offered a little unexpected human kindness? It can be as simple as asking, “Are you OK?”

Play Create Elevate also offers your organisation the opportunity to hear first-hand, from a lived experience perspective about the signs and symptoms of mood disorders, how to give and get help and how to build and sustain resilience. PwC have released a report that says for every dollar spent in creating mentally healthy workplaces that an ROI of at least $2.13 is possible… What are you waiting for? It’s time to speak openly and comfortably about mind health matters!

Because your Mind Health Matters…

Jacqui Chaplin | jacqui@jacquichaplin.com | +61 (0) 412 741 531


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