Kindness and Caution
With regard to Susan Spano’s column “Journeys Can Offer Inspiring Lessons in Depending on Kindness of Strangers” (Her World, Nov. 26): I just returned from a trip to London and Ireland with my 4-year-old twins. We were constantly being offered assistance.
At one point, the doors of a tube train shut before I was able to board with my son, leaving my daughter standing on the moving train by herself. A group of passengers pantomimed that they would take her off at the next stop and would wait for me to meet her there. Fortunately, we managed to get the train to stop.
Later, as I was trying to get to Heathrow airport on a Sunday evening (and kept missing necessary connections), a fellow passenger helped us get on a crowded city bus, figured out an alternative route and escorted us all the way to the door of another tube that would connect us directly with Heathrow. He even stood in line and paid for the upgraded transit ticket I needed.
Spano wisely says that accepting the kindness of strangers when traveling alone can be wonderful but that it can also be a disaster.
Thomas Thompson’s wonderful book “Serpentine” is a bone-chilling narrative of a “kind” stranger in Asia, Charles Sobhraj, who drugged tourists’ drinks, took them to his home to “recover,” stole passports and money and, in many cases, wound up killing them.
It’s a good idea never to go alone to the home of a kind stranger when traveling. Unfortunately, kindness is often the approach of people who have malevolent motives.