I apologize for my blog absence. I have no excuse except for laziness. The heat will do that to you sometimes.
Anyway, despite living in a huge, dirty city where the people are grumpy, selfish and always in a hurry, there are some gems of kindness if you look hard enough. It’s stressful to live here, so I try my hardest to find the good in my environment. I do admit that I have days like these where I want to pull my hair out and catch the next plane, bus, train or horse-drawn carriage (do those still exist?) out of Santiago. However, today’s focus will be on Random Acts of Kindness that I have recently experienced or witnessed.
Number One: Kind Security Guard at Servipag
I know, I know. I need to get a bank account. I’m on it. But until then, I have to pay my bills at Servipag, which is a place you go, stand in line, and pay your bills. You can also cash checks from certain banks and deposit into those said banks as well. It’s a nice little service, because instead of standing in line at Aguas Andinas (Water), VTR (internet), Chilectra (electricity), Movistar (cellphone) and MetroGas (gas) you can do it all in one place. So I went the other day and the line was enormous. So I got at the end of the line and the security guard noticed me. He took my arm and said, “Señorita, you can go right here” and pointed to an open window with no line. I looked at him, like “Are you SURE?” and he nodded, so I took advantage and paid my two bills right away. So thank you, Mr. Security Guard.
Number Two: Generous Woman at Santander
Unfortunately, you can’t cash checks from Santander bank at Servipag, so after I went there and pulled number 306. They were currently on number 230. So I diligently took my seat and scolded myself for not having brought my book with me that day. As I waited, another woman sat down and started making small talk. We chatted about the long line and how delicious the strawberries I had bought on the street smelled. Then her granddaughters arrived with their fathers and she turned their attention to them. At one point, she offered them both gum and candy. She turned to me and offered to me as well! It was so sweet of her.
Number Three: Sweet students
I’m teaching teens this summer which I’m enjoying more than initially anticipated. I have one class of the most beginning level the Institute offers. I was nervous about them, but they are great students and really fun to teach. I only teach them M-W-F and another teacher has them T-Th, but regardless, I always see them in the hallways. Today three of them stopped me in the hall and said “Miss! Miss!” then they started giggling and saying in Spanish, “You say it, no you say it! No, you say it!” until finally one of them said, “Miss, you are very beautiful today.” AWWWW! First of all, because who doesn’t like being called beautiful, and second of all, they obviously looked up how to say that in English!!! Cuties.
Number Four: A Push up the Hill
I went jogging at Cerro San Cristobal today (ok, it was more of a walk-jog affair) and there were a ton of cyclists. There was this particularly cute little boy, maybe 5 years old, with his dad. They were going pretty slow, hence I stayed with them for awhile. At the really tough parts, the dad would reach over and put a hand on the kid’s back to help him along. It was such a selfless gesture. Then, on my way down, I saw the same thing, but this time a man was helping a woman up. I hope that if I ever attempt San Cristobal on a bike, there’s someone there to give me an extra push if needed.
So there you have it folks. It’s not a myth. People in Santiago can be kind, generous, sweet and selfless. I think the key is to seek out the individual Santiaguino, and not judge everyone based on the mass of grumpies on the metro late for work.