Small Kindnesses

Of the taxi-using population of TeessideIMG_0404, 92% are kind. Of the remaining 8%, half could learn to be kind, and half are too far gone. I know this because I spent last Saturday in Stockton Library with a flipchart, and a very chatty taxi driver sat down and told me so. I asked him about kindness quite generally, but he spent a good deal of effort quantifying his experience of punters, so I feel I should respect his percentages. I also very much respect his adamant position that judging people too quickly is very wrong – they will always surprise you if you give them time to relax.

I’m genuinely bucked up to think I live and work in an area of 92% kindness, but I’m a little concerned at what constitutes kindness to my compatriots, based on the examples they gave me at Stockton Library. Bearing in mind they might not have wanted to unburden their most profound moments to a random person when they were only there to borrow a Mary Berry cookbook, nevertheless there was a lot of very small kindnesses mentioned. Smiling at people, chatting to neighbours, and above all else holding doors open for people – this is just common courtesy, surely? When did a held door become the acme of tender-heartedness, the definitive gesture of humanity? People say ‘it’s the little things’, but forgive me if I carry on looking for something more than just the absence of rudeness….

You could help me figure out what kindness really looks like, and if it’s different to compassion, by taking my teensy survey.

The show is playing at ARC in Stockton on Thursday 16 June, it’s Pay What You Decide, so a no-risk proposition! Reserve your seat here.

Up next : carrot cake and compassion with Quakers!

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