Tag Archives: Kindness

Liquid Sunshine

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Otago Clocktower

Otago Clocktower

My first few days in Dunedin have been extremely pleasant; I’ve been living in a flat that is cozy in nearly every way without actually being warm. The outside is quaint, each bedroom is charming, and the living area is…Well, the living area looked like a 1970’s office space until my flatmates and I took it upon ourselves to do some rearranging. When we arrived, the kitchen table was up against one wall, right beneath a large bulletin board with a series of flyers on how to conserve energy and what to do with our rubbish. An oversized calendar, a wall clock, a microwave, and a jubilee of pens all succeeded in making the space look like an old-fashioned corporate break room.

In a matter of minutes, we relocated many of the informational flyers and the clock, moved the microwave off of the kitchen table, and scooted the kitchen table away from the wall. In an attempt to spruce the place up, my flatmates and I posted a series of memorable quotations on the cork board that had already been uttered by one of us in the past week. Given the time it took us to revamp the kitchen and accumulate odd inside jokes, we expect that our flat will grow to be more homey as the days go by.

Meanwhile, I am hopeful that I will grow more accustomed to the cold the longer I live here. Walking down the streets of Dunedin, I’ve seen women in dresses, runners in shorts, and several people in T-shirts. I’m still routinely losing feeling in my extremities and wishing that a fleece onesie will magically appear in my room. I’m certainly not the only one; I think my laptop may also be wishing for a fleece jacket or a trip to Hawaii right about now. My third night here, my computer felt like a block of ice and refused to hold any charge. Thinking it was on the verge of collapsing, I rushed it to the library and prayed that some heat might revive it. The jolt of warmth seems to have set it right, but I have taken to tucking it into my bed when it’s not in use.

As for the New Zealanders, their warm personalities seem to counteract the cold weather. Coming back from the library the other day, I turned a corner just in time to watch an adorable three-year-old who was walking with his father trip over an orange cone which marked a construction zone. I immediately froze; I could see that tears were about to come to his eyes, and I was worried he’d gotten scraped up by his spill. But before so much as a wail from the child, another man walking in front of me scooped the little tike off the ground and placed him into his father’s arms. What shocked me wasn’t just that it took under three seconds for this whole event to take place, but that there was no look of “Who is this man picking up my child?” on the father’s face. There was virtually no other exchange between the two men; one smiled his thanks while the other hurried on his way. Perhaps the little boy was just as stunned as I was, because the teary-eyed look had vanished as soon as he’d found he was no longer lying facedown on the ground, but rather was being hugged tight in his father’s arms.

Inspired by this display of kindness, I asked a woman walking a few paces in front of me if she needed help carrying two bicycle wheels. She gave me an odd look and shook her head “No” and I realized that maybe they weren’t all that heavy, and instead of being a nice gesture it looked like I was trying to steal one off of her.

As I wondered why anyone would steal a single bicycle wheel without a tire on it, it started to rain. In a few short moments (as is customary in Dunedin) the sky was completely overrun by clouds. While I watched giant droplets slide off the hood of my rain jacket, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought back to another drizzly afternoon a few days earlier. I had just been about to leave the post office when I remarked to my friends how the rain had come back full force since we had ducked inside. A man who had just walked through the doors quickly corrected me, saying “It never rains in Dunedin! There’s only liquid sunshine!” So, while I probably won’t offer to carry anyone’s bike wheels for a while, I can certainly strive to embrace the type of Kiwi attitude that is capable of turning storms into sunshine.

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Traveling Into Tomorrow

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When I landed in Dunedin three weeks ago, I posted a recollection of my travels on Wonderful World of the Wanderer. Since all magnificently lucky travel stories deserve to be told twice, here it is:

Something interesting about being halfway around the world is that the time difference puts us a day ahead of people in the states. Technically I think this means that I’m licensed to call home and let them know if the future is looking bright. The price of being able to travel into the future, however, is a grueling series of plane flights and layovers.

To start my journey, my parents and I took off for San Francisco, where we spent some time taking in the sights. We were able to climb the Coit Tower, walk along the Pier, see Lombard and Steiner Street, visit the Golden Gate, and stuff our faces with Boudin sourdough and Ghirardelli chocolate. It was incredibly nice to spend time with my parents in one of my favorite cities in the world. IMG_3493 - Version 2

But after some wonderful adventures in San Francisco, it was time for my parents to drop me off at the airport. Thirteen hours later I arrived in Auckland; I was exhausted, overwhelmed by the airport, and feeling completely alone. After hauling my bags off of the belt, I attempted to prepare myself to go through customs and catch my plane to Dunedin.

One of my greatest talents in life is my capability to get lost anywhere. Passing as a tourist in my own hometown? Easy. Looking like a freshman on my college campus? No problem. So, naturally, I got lost as soon as I grabbed my bags. I tried to wander around for a bit, hoping I would stumble upon a line on the floor that I could follow to my exact destination. I ambled towards an exit that claimed to be able to lead me to the domestic terminals, finding instead that it led me to a curb outside of the airport. I decided that I couldn’t lug my bags around any further, and that I needed some help. “Excuse me?” I asked a woman walking past. “Do you know how to get to the domestic terminals?”

“Well, I normally walk to it by taking this path right here,” she motioned to a green line that was painted on the ground. “It takes you right to it. But today I’m riding the bus, so you can follow me.” As I struggled to follow her, my bags incapable of any synchronized movement, my newfound guide began to explain how I could have grabbed a cart for my bags, or that I could have left my bags at a bag drop inside. “No worries now, you can just do it at the domestic terminal.”

The bus to the terminal arrived shortly afterwards, and my guide helped me load my suitcases aboard, and then promptly proceeded to help an older gentlemen with his suitcase, making sure both he and his bag didn’t tumble over. I couldn’t help but think of a mother duck collecting ducklings as she went. Upon arriving in the terminal, she helped the older man off the bus and brought him his suitcase, all the while making sure I was still behind her. She made sure we found someone with a wheelchair for the man, and then she rolled his bag to where he needed it before turning back to me. “This way, this way.”

She took me to the premium desk, although I was certainly not a premium passenger, and made sure my baggage could be dropped off. “Maybe I should ask them where I should go,” I said out loud, feeling guilty that this woman had to drag me around the airport. “No, no, follow me, we’ll go to security next,” she called, leading me onwards and letting me know which security rules applied in New Zealand.

As soon as we were through security, I once again mused that I should ask someone for my gate (which was unmarked on my ticket), not wanting this kind woman who also had a flight to catch to have to take me the whole way there. But once again, she shushed me, saying, “No, no, follow me.” At this point I had no idea how this woman would get me to my gate if we didn’t even know the number, but I was too tired to care that I once again had no idea where I was headed.

“Let’s see if I can’t get you in the Koru Lounge. It’s a much nicer place to wait than at your gate. Can I take her as my guest?” She asked a woman at the entrance of a swanky looking airport sitting area. Once she was given the OK, she ushered me in and lead me to a comfy seating area, and began pointing out where to get food, coffee, and Internet. “You can use the bathrooms or take a shower over there. Do you see the man in the checkered shirt who just sat down? That’s Ma’a Nonu. He’s a famous rugby player on the New Zealand All Blacks. You’ll start seeing him on TV a lot.”

As I gazed around the lounge in amazement, I began to wonder what I had done to earn this woman’s pity and to end up in this airport wonderland. Perhaps it was the baffled look that had permanently taken over my face, or the fact that I was struggling to find the words to thank her and was having trouble stringing sentences together. Before leaving to catch her flight, she handed me her business card and made me promise to tuck into the food for a good breakfast so I didn’t waste my pennies. Then she offered me a place to stay if I ever made it to New Zealand’s capital and said “Let’s see if you make it to Wellington” before disappearing out the lounge door towards her gate.

I think it’s safe to say that I was the luckiest and most grateful person at the Auckland airport that day. Somehow her display of kindness made me feel less alone, and made New Zealand feel less far from home. Safely in Dunedin now, I’d like to send a message back home: The future is looking bright.

 

Reverse Road Rage

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There are a few things I am certain about in life: (1) Maroon 5 would kill for the new Olly Murs song, Troublemaker. (2) Flashcards are the greatest use of paper known to man. And (3) The only thing uglier than road rage is a tuna fish with a mustache.

I’ve never understood road rage. Nothing says “You best believe I’m willing to get in an accident over this feud” better than angrily tailing someone’s butt. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of indignant moments when someone does something utterly pointless like speed up when they see I’m trying to slide into their lane. It’s so infuriating because its so trivial. Why bother to do that other than to be rude?

But the outraged yelling, the hand gestures, the maniacal driving in response to being cut off…It’s just too much. If you can do something really impressive with that anger, like turning into the Hulk or something, then I guess you have good reason to show it off. I personally can’t pull off the intimidating green giant look, so instead I tend to make light of the situation and sarcastically compliment them on their creative driving. “Well done, I’m sure your parents have been waiting all your life for you to evolve into the dauntless driver that you are. See you at the next stop light!” “Wow, did not see you coming without your blinker there. You’re wise to use the element of surprise; I’ve heard it also works remarkably well when sneaking up on angry bears.”

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