I take great pleasure in helping out people looking for directions or guidance, in so far as I am able. Here in London, exasperated tourists will approach me with varying degrees of English competency on the regular, looking for assistance in locating their destination; I am always delighted to point them in the right direction, when I can, drawing maps on a notepad or even walking them partway if I have nowhere important to be. Even though this is not my home country, this is just good hospitality, and I like to do my best to send folk on their way with a positive impression, just as I rely on fellow Londoners to help me out when I’m in an unfamiliar part of town. I am a big believer in asking for, and offering, directions.
So this is, as I said, just good hospitality, and ultimately good karma. It’s not a big city, but it is a busy and twisting one, and we all need a little help from time to time. I was recently thinking, however, about the people I call Travel Angels. These are the people you meet in the course of your journey who go far out of their way to assist you, and leave you with a warm feeling in the pit of your belly, the people who replenish your basic faith in humanity, however grand or small the gesture. These gestures are always poignant, but especially so in a foreign setting when you are wary of your vulnerability.
This is more than essential kindness, and more than giving directions. These acts require the Angel to take time away from themselves to see you safely to your destination, or extend their welcome to the point of invitation into their own lives. It’s the person who sees you on your own in an unfamiliar place and invites you to a Lebanese family supper, or offers to drive you 30 miles out of their way (both experiences from my own life). With that thought, I wanted to detail four instances of Travel Angels and invite you to share your own.