The year was 1975…the movie Jaws was the cause a many a panic stricken stampede out of the surf on the beaches around Cape Town. My parents had acquired the same rooms they always stayed in at the Van Riebeeck Hotel in Gordon’s Bay and were occupied doing what they always did those days…and I…well, I was mostly alone, reading books and drinking cola-tonics in the public lounge. I can’t remember why I was alone…but I do remember that I was rather lonely.
A group of young navy chaps regularly frequented the public lounge as well. They noted that I was always alone and for some or other reason allowed me to hang out with them. One chap in particular took me under his wing and taught me how to swim out to sea and how to float among other things. Once when going for a drive with his parents, he asked if I would like to come along. Of course I wanted to and I did…the option of sitting alone at the hotel reading whatever I was reading at the time wasn’t all that appealing in comparison.
Sadly, I don’t remember any of their names. When my parents returned to Namibia at the end of the holidays we parted company and I never heard from any of them again. Those were the days before email and Face Book. But I do remember their kindness. They didn’t have to take pity on a lonely and gangly teenager, but they did.
As I drove past Gordon’s Bay the other day, I thought about this moment in time. Kindness is so rare…no wonder I remember this event so vividly. Of course I wish I could remember their names. All I want to do now is say thank you.
But it also serves as a lesson to me and to others. It costs you nothing to be kind other than time and perhaps a bit of effort and patience. Why not look for someone to whom you can show a bit of kindness today? You never know how much it may mean to them…even for years to come…