The Kindness of Strangers

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne


For any of you who are on Facebook with me, you will know that last week I had a great deal to be thankful for, especially as a result of the kindness of strangers. 

The drama occurred last Wednesday when one of my neighbors (1st stranger really, as I don’t know him very well) knocked at my door around 7:30 in the morning to tell me that he had just seen our beloved collie, Hamish (as shown in photo above), being lured up the road by two coyotes. I rushed outside (very glamorous in my PJs and dressing gown) to see the most surreal scene –  two coyotes nearly at the end of our street cunningly leading my dog along to what I have no doubt would have been a nasty end. I never truly believed all the stories about coyotes working together to lure large dogs away to be attacked by the pack – but I do now. 

In a panic I called out after Hamish, who initially looked back at me with a face that said “are you kidding me, I’m having way too much fun!”. By this time my neighbor was running to his car, ready to help – because we both could see that Hamish was way too far away for me to get to him. It took me four attempts (and a lot of willpower not to scream at my dog) before Hamish turned reluctantly to come back to me. That was when the next stranger came in – running down her driveway to help coax Hamish and grab his collar. I’d never met her before, and although it was a little weird meeting in the circumstances (both in our PJs – saving my dog from coyotes!) I was touched by her concern. She was already on the phone to animal control telling them to send a patrol – having not only seen the amazing sight of two coyotes ‘playing’ with a collie but also making the decision to actively come outside and help rescue him.

So as you can see I have a lot to thank two relative strangers and this got me thinking, especially as this is Thanksgiving week, about the difference strangers can make. In my writing career I have been amazed how people who I’ve often never met, have gone out of their way to help me – be it booksellers, readers, conference organizers, blogger or reviewers. Although I’ve always tried to thank each person individually, I would also like to take this time to acknowledge how much we, as writers, rely on the kindness of strangers. I don’t mean that in a ‘taking pity’ kind of way – I mean those active, ‘go out of your way’ actions that can often make all the difference to a writing career. All too often we have no way to repay these acts of kindness, except (I hope) by following their example and helping other writers in our midst.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, which ‘stranger’ would you thank if you could? Have you ever experienced a moment such as mine, where the kindness of strangers really made all the difference (and there is no doubt in my mind that without them Hamish would have been lost forever)? Well, now is the time, to acknowledge those moments. We should also aspire to be these sort of strangers – the ones who don’t stand idly by – but who rush in to help when help is needed. 

Oh, and as a side note, this morning we received a ‘coyote’ calling card in the form of someone’s dead chicken disemboweled on our lawn. I swear I feel like I’m suddenly in some kind of ‘coyote godfather’ movie…thank goodness we have strangers looking out for us!

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