This is a topic I’ve written on before, but it’s one I find really interesting and rewarding. One of the things that for me separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is that people we don’t even know will help us out or do us a favour. Often when we least expect it.

My first proper job after college was in Liverpool, where I was a graduate trainee with an insurance company. A bunch of us had started out at the same time, and so we had a ready made social group which tended to make us burn the candle at both ends.

I was taking the local train home one evening, after a particularly long week of ‘word hard, play hard’. Across from me was a bearded man, rough looking and shabby, with a beanie on. The kind of chap you might not sit down next to if faced with a choice of empty seats.

My regular train ride home was about 20 minutes, so I risked a tiny bit of shut-eye, as I’m a very light sleeper. The next thing I knew, I got a tap on the knee from the guy across from me, who I was convinced I had never seen before.

“I think this is your stop mate.” I look out the window, and indeed it was. I thanked him and bolted out of the carriage, without asking him how on earth he knew. I’m a terrible one for forming an opinion on someone from appearances, and yet again I was proved wrong. Now there’s probably a 1 in 10,000 chance he was a stalker, and a 9,999/10,000 chance he was a stranger doing someone else a favour and paying it forward.

It kind of restores your faith in humanity for a while. Rather like a story I heard today about a bus full of lads travelling from Dublin to an Irish-speaking hurling tournament in Connemara. They passed an ‘auld fellah’ cutting turf and faced with a field of turf bricks that needed turning up and leaning into each other in wigwam-type shapes for drying. All 40 of them got out and turned the turf in 10 minutes, before getting back on the bus and resuming their journey.

Love that kind of thing :-).